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Patty Leon: It is not a gun issue
Patty Leon new

Columbine, Sandy Hook, Marjory Stoneman Douglas and now Oxford High. These are just a few of the hundreds of school shootings that has occurred in our Country during the past few decades.

This latest incident in Michigan was carried out by a 15-year-old boy, who killed four, most shot at close range, and injured others. The boy and now his parents have been charged in the case. The gun was purchased by his dad, an early Christmas gift.

Now their Christmas as well as the Christmas all of his victims and their families is forever tarnished, a terrible event to remember every year.

When will this end?

What can we do better as a nation to get this under control?

I’m not here to talk about the Second Amendment. This is not a discussion about gun control. Unfortunately, as a Country we aren’t ready to have that discussion without one side of the political spectrum yelling, “They are coming for all your guns,” which is complete and utter BS. No one is coming for ALL your guns. The Second Amendment is not going away. I believe in the fundamental right to bear arms to protect yourself and your family. I believe you have a right to use your guns, in a responsible and proper way. I support responsible hunters and gun owners. I own guns myself.

These school shootings are not a gun issue; it is a mental health issue.

And our Country sucks in how we treat and deal with people who suffer from mental health issues.

There is something wrong when young teens take matters into their own hands to the extent of bringing a gun to school and deliberately killing their fellow students and teachers.

According to various reports, Columbine shooters Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were depressed and troubled teens who were often bullied by classmates.

Sandy Hook Shooter Adam Lanza was also described as a, “deeply troubled,” young man.

Nicolaz Cruz, responsible for the horrific massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas in Florida, had an extensive history of mental health issues and anger management problems.

Reports indicate several school administrators from the various schools Cruz attended had requested the young man be admitted to a psychiatric hospital. Unlike the previous shooters mentioned, Cruz was a bully in many ways. It’s still a bit early but the reports coming out about Ethan Crumbley seem to point to a young


man who is also troubled. A boy who had to meet with school officials prior to the shooting to discuss troubling behavior in the classroom. The prosecutor in the case reported a mountain of digital evidence to include a video indicating that Crumbley planned the attack.

Again, who in their right mind plans to kill?

According to Mental Health America:

• A growing percentage of youth in the U.S. live with major depression. 15.08% of youth experienced a major depressive episode in the past year, a 1.24% increase from last year’s dataset. In the bottom- ranked states, up to 19% of youth ages 12-17 experienced major depression.

• Over 2.5 million youth in the U.S. have severe depression, and multiracial youth are at greatest risk. 10.6% of youth in the U.S. have severe major depression (depression that severely affects functioning). The rate of severe depression was highest among youth who identified as more than one race, at 14.5% (more than one in every seven multiracial youth).

• Over 60% of youth with major depression do not receive any mental health treatment.

Even in states with the greatest access, nearly one in three are going without treatment.

• Nationally, fewer than 1 in 3 youth with severe depression receive consistent mental health care. Even among youth with severe depression who receive some treatment, only 27% received consistent care.

I’m not saying that every person with a mental health issue is going to plan a killing spree, commit a crime or do something negative.

Statistics show that is not the case at all. Studies done by the American Psychiatric Association state the vast majority of people with mental illness are not violent, not criminal and not dangerous (2014 APA Study).

But we need to do better in communicating with our youth. We need to do better in watching out for the signs of a teen being bullied or one who is withdrawn. We need to do better in finding them the help they might need. We need to care for others who might not be able to speak openly with their own families. We need to stop stigmatizing mental health issues. This is the issue we need to address.

Patty Leon is senior editor of the Courier.

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