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Letters

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Web letter by Ruby McBride: Mental health vigilance our best chance to prevent mass violence

Attempting to understand the mindset of evil is at times impossible. While working directly with extremely psychotic, sociopathic, violent patients as a psychiatric nurse for many years, I quickly learned there are no quick answers to their behaviors and often no predictors to when they will act out. It is often only after their violent behaviors or following a traumatic incident that we can identify the triggers that set off their violence – of course, by that time the evil has occurred, and those who are affected by their violence will have life-altering trauma. What makes it so difficult to identify these individuals is their ability to merge into everyday society, much like a chameleon. That is where the danger lies – often family members do not see these changes or deny that they are occurring.

When such evil and tragedy strikes, such as in mass murders where innocent people are killed or injured, society is quick to make judgments, demand changes in the laws (stiffer gun control – politicians pushing their own agendas) and simply determine what to do to make it safer for society. Oftentimes, there simply are no answers to the mindset of murderers, and it is only then that we truly know that evil exists.

At one time I firmly believed that anyone who would do such vicious acts of violence had to be mentally ill. I was quickly told by a psychiatrist that sometimes there are no explanations for their behavior other than they are just plain evil. So what is the blame for these types of behaviors? Some say it is the breakdown of the family unit; drugs; desensitization due to violent gaming and violent movies; decreased funding for mental illness; domestic abuse; illegal guns; lack of morality; poor or no role models; complacency; and the list could go on and on.

Violence and evil have existed since biblical days and will continue to the end of time. The problem will not be resolved by more laws but by enforcement of the more than 500 gun laws already in place. States and cities that often have the strictest gun laws have the highest violent crime rates. It is people and criminals who do the hideous crimes, not the device they use. They pull the trigger; they build the bomb; fly into the buildings or crash the plane; and obviously do not practice good mental health. Families need to be diligent in identifying potential mental health issues and seek immediate intervention. Perhaps then and only then can we stop the violence in our society.

RUBY McBRIDE

Marion

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