Like so many others across the world, I was horrified to learn of the tragedy that took place on Saturday morning in Tucson. The assassination attempt on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and the murder of six innocent victims, including a nine year old girl, was a gut-wrenching shock to the Tucson community and the nation as a whole. Why would someone do this? What would possess a 22 year old man to gun down a group of people? And what can we do to prevent this from happening again?
Whether the young man had a politically based motive to kill Rep. Giffords or not is still speculation. But what we do know is that the alleged murderer is obviously and clearly a very troubled person. What we do know is that he lives with his parents and that others who knew him also knew that something was wrong. So the only question I have right now is this: why didn’t anyone help him?
When we know someone who is troubled, delusional, and unstable, the signs will be there. Someone with the internal rage, delusional behavior, and unstable thought process like this young man exhibited will not be able to hide it easily. So why was he ignored? As we know all too well, if we ignore, avoid, or deny the serious mental health problems of those we know, it may only result in tragic consequences for that person and/or for others. In fact, recent research has shown the correlation to untreated mental health problems and violence…and the problem is on the rise. (continues…)