I’m going to burst if I don’t write this right now. If you’ve heard enough about the senseless tragedy in Newtown, CT, go ahead and change the channel. However, if you are wondering like me what you could possibly do to prevent another incident like this, please read on. I need your input at the end.
This horrific shooting spawned a few chat conversations today. In one of them, a friend confided in me that she was concerned by comments she read from one of her friends in Facebook. Without giving away names or details, let’s just say she thought the guy might be planning to go off the deep end and take people with him.
And then she rightfully asked “Just who do I take this to?” I had to stop and think carefully. We have hotlines for domestic violence and suicide prevention, but there’s no hotline for terrorism like this. I googled Homeland Security, and they recommended taking it to your local law enforcement.
And then I think, how do you report a vague threat that local police could even take action on, and keep your name out of it so the lunatic doesn’t come after you or your family? “If you see something, say something” is not as easy as it sounds.
So my question to you, especially if you work in the law enforcement or mental health field, is this, “If a good citizen senses someone is troubled enough to do something like this, how should they best handle it?”
Add your comments below, and please… let’s use this as a forum for personal action solutions, not political solutions. Thank you in advance for your expert advice!
Dave, I see you posted this just a few minutes ago. Yes, certainly this is a heinous act, but we always use the word senseless. Is it senseless? Certainly, I am not condoning the murders that transpired today. The children are the last ones that should be subjected to these acts of violence. For the those that lost their lives today, very sadly, it’s all over for them, but for the survivors they will never be the same, there will always be a huge whole in their hearts. My own sister lost her only child, her son, from a car crash, which he caused, 19 years old taking 2 others with him. She lives on, but most times she is just like a zombie, alive, but dead inside. I certainly cannot get inside the mind of this psychopath, nor do I want to. Here in Stockton I see things that relate back to acts of violence practically everyday. Let me give you an example. I was subbing in an elementary school at the end of the year last year. The student disregarded me; they threatened me, turned on gangster rap on the CD, threw pencil, crayons, and bottles all around the room, and this was considered normal. I couldn’t hack it and bowed out of that assignment. I just didn’t need that level of stress in my life. I decided to call the regular teacher and talk to her about it. She said please understand. These kids have parents that use that are convicted felons and use them as human punching bags. All of a sudden I had great compassion for them. We live in a society that glorifies violence. We have a country that has been built on war after war, we have war or fight against cancer, fight against drugs, I even saw once a fight for peace. hoe absurd is that. When a soldier comes home with his legs blown off, he gets a purple heart. The poor bastard got in the way of gun fire. Do you think he would give his purple heart back to have his legs? You bet his sweet ass he would! We live in a world of screens. There’s our laptops, iPads, iPods, Smart Phones, GPS, 3-D movies, etc. Most that denote a lot of violence. Shouldn’t we give medals to the Peace Corp workers. As long as we glorify violence, this will sadly continue. When someone comes up with an issue, we give them pyschotropic drugs, and let’s not forget how the electromagnetic pollution is affecting our brainwave activity. All for the almighty dollar,profit, not health and well being. We as a society have lost our way. Ptolemy, the famous philosopher said, “suppression breeds violence.” That was a long time ago, but still holds true! Mother Teresa said, “If you invite me to an antiwar protest, I will not come. If you invite me to a Peace Rally, I’ll be there.” I’m a child of the Woodstock Generation. Peace and Love. The Beatles, “All you need is Love.” John Lennon, “All we are saying, is give Peace a chance.” Sadly, of course, he was violently murdered, as also Gandhi, and Martin King, Jr. We need to change the way we think!! We need to stop hating people for their differences in ideology. I tell the kids in school, “I don’t care what your religion is, or what country your from, or your race. All I care is where you are in your head and your heart.” That is all that matters. Until we have a paradigm shift; until we start promoting Peace and Love all the time and downplay war, fighting, and violence, nothing will change. Jesus promoted Agape love. Love your enemy as yourself. When people don’t love themselves they lash out violently. Anger and fear is much to much prevalent in this society. I could shout Peace and Love from the rooftops, but will anybody listen? Don’t know, but I’ll never stop trying. Thank-you for listening. A thorough thought out response is appreciated. Blessings to you. Dave Becker
Dave, you certainly wrote a thorough and though-out response. You covered a lot of ground and I hope your words have an impact on someone who reads this.
From my view, peace and violence will both always exist, and they occur in a cycle. We have to try to maximize peace and minimize the violence.
My question above gets to the heart of the solution… Ask yourself what you can do and do it. Lamenting the state of the world is cathartic, but changing the world requires individual action by a LOT of people doing their part.
Peace to you my friend 🙂
That’s a hard call David because, what if you’re wrong… what if they’re just a little strange but not dangerous even if you can remain anonymous? Then you’ve alerted authorities for no reason? Also, what if them being questioned doesn’t result in their detainment but gives them the push to actually act? I think close friends and family are the ones that really have the ability to act but are often in denial…. even then, in Michigan, mental health care in the state is so seriously lacking, (and/or insurance doesn’t cover or severely limits it), about the only way for somebody to get any help is to commit crimes then MAYBE, they can get some help in prison. 🙁
I know this didn’t help, just voicing my opinion… how do we get them the help they need when the government is non-supportive?
I was told that the police would not take such a comment lightly, they would prefer to talk to a person directly, even if the comment was not said in seriousness, and they would not divulge who gave them the name and comments. A very hard call, but myself, I would prefer to err on the side of caution!
This is a great discussion; so necessary. I wish that I had some brilliant answers to add! I had an experience once in college where my study partner left our after class discussion and when home and hung himself. Thank God he didn’t take anyone else with him, however, that has haunted me for decades. I didn’t know him well enough to see the signs that were there. His words didn’t match his energy level or demeanor. I have often asked, “What could I have done differently to have perhaps changed things for that young man?”
This discussion brings up that very question; would I have called? Then, I don’t know; today I have friends in law enforcement that would be empathetic and great sounding boards to “check-in” with. I had a case where I had a client who was extremely distressed and I had to phone for a wellness check (they take you to the psych ward and hold you for 24 hrs.), this one of the hardest things that I had to ever watch…turns out it wasn’t the first time someone had called for this person, she had some needs!
Now that I have moved across the country and know very few people, I wonder, who would I call? Perhaps my pastor would be a good resource? I would definitely call the church and ask them if they knew who I should call or if they were able to somehow intercede because it happened to be a church member or they know the person! (I live in a very small, rural community)
Prior to moving, in my work with a workforce development agency, we kept handy lists of resources for a multitude of needs because our clients were more often than not struggling with depression and a variety of needs due to long-term unemployment. As sad as it was to have to use that list, this discussion has given me pause to think, “Who would I call”?
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