Connecticut School Shooting Sparks Mental Healthcare Debate Online

NEW YORK | Monday, December 17th, 2012 1:33am EDT

The leading debate on gun control is the obvious one, while debate on mental health and the failings of American mental healthcare system taking an unfortunate back seat.

Sandy Hook Shooting Sparks Mental Healthcare Debate Online 01

In the wake and aftermath of what can only be described as a reprehensible mass slaughter of innocent young life, the Sandy Hook School Shooting is currently sparking a number of necessary and heated online debates. Photo: Aidan Mace/Flickr

In the wake and aftermath of what can only be described as a reprehensible mass slaughter of innocent young life, the Sandy Hook Elementary School Massacre is currently sparking a number of necessary and heated online debates.

The motive behind the Connecticut elementary school rampage is not known, but behavioral specialists with expertise on mass killings note that such events typically do not occur spontaneously, that the perpetrator has harbored both resentments and fantasies of how he would carry out his objective.

“These individuals typically do not carry these out spontaneously,” said J. Reid Meloy, a UC San Diego psychologist, reports the LA Times.

Planning for mass killings can span weeks, months or longer, Meloy said. Based on his research of adolescent and adult mass killers, Meloy said, “there is planning and preparation for these crimes.’’

According to the Inquisitor, the suspected perpetrator, Adam Lanza, is believed to have been a longtime sufferer of autism, or an autism-like spectrum disorder.  While investigations are still ongoing, there are already accounts by neighbors and acquaintances detailing Adam Lanza as socially awkward and deeply troubled.

While more people are sure to come out of the woodwork, citing Lanza’s awkward and painful social behaviors, the question becomes: What do we do to prevent more Sandy Hook’s from happening?

An online petition calling on the White House to immediately address the issue of gun control quickly surpassed the required number of signatures Friday, hours after the Connecticut elementary school massacre.

“The goal of this petition is to force the Obama Administration to produce legislation that limits access to guns. While a national dialogue is critical, laws are the only means in which we can reduce the number of people murdered in gun related deaths.”

Petitions on the White House’s “We the People” online petition site require 25,000 signatures within a month to garner an official administration response. The petition met that goal Friday evening; by Saturday morning it had reached more than 68,000 signatures.

The fundamental reason kids are dying in massacres like this one is not that we have lunatics or criminals — all countries have them — but that we suffer from a political failure to regulate guns, says the NY Times.

American schoolchildren are protected by building codes that govern stairways and windows. School buses must meet safety standards, and the bus drivers have to pass tests. Cafeteria food is regulated for safety. The only things we seem lax about are the things most likely to kill.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has five pages of regulations about ladders, while federal authorities shrug at serious curbs on firearms. Ladders kill around 300 Americans a year, and guns 30,000.

White House press secretary Jay Carney on Friday demurred on the issue of gun control, saying it was a day to mourn, not to pursue policy.

Speaking about the shooting later on Friday, President Barack Obama vowed to take “meaningful action” to prevent more such tragedies from taking place in the future.

While gun legislation petitions swirl the internet, a powerful first person account of raising a violent, mentally ill child is also making its rounds across the internet, Linza Long’s op-ed entitled I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother.

“When I asked my son’s social worker about my options, he said that the only thing I could do was to get Michael charged with a crime. “If he’s back in the system, they’ll create a paper trail,” he said. “That’s the only way you’re ever going to get anything done. No one will pay attention to you unless you’ve got charges.”  I don’t believe my son belongs in jail.”

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