The issues and causes of most, if not all, of the mass slayings by an individual that we have witnessed over the past decade is mental illness; a lack of citizen awareness of the early signs of mental illness; and, various well-intended laws that protect privacy rights.
The rights of seriously ill individuals have had unintended consequences including, but not limited to, tying the hands of family members and law enforcement personnel in situations where they should be able to act assertively.
There has also been a failure to adequately and properly deal with some of the side effects of some of the drugs commonly prescribed for depression and anxiety that may cause suicidal ideation and violent acting out. Most of the shooters over the past few years were on some type of meds. The Connecticut shooter definitely was.
Some of the meds mask and suppress feelings. The underlying cause of the feelings is not eliminated. Anger, frustration, anxiety and a sense of powerlessness continue to accumulate below the surface without any means of ventilation. These feelings are just pushed down into the subconscious which can, and seemingly, more frequently does, create a potentially explosive situation.
So what can we do to help prevent additional mass slayings? We can recognize that in a population approaching 315 million people, at any given moment there are tens of thousands of people who are on the edge of sanity, capable of breaching the basic trust that underlies all of society ,and capable of taking violent action against innocent persons.
We must become more aware of the symptoms and the law must be changed to allow us a vehicle through which the behavior can be reported and official action can be taken.
I’m not suggesting a return to the days of state institutions used as human warehouses. Nor am I suggesting a witch hunt. But I am suggesting that the pendulum has swung too far in favor of the rights of the seriously mentally ill and too far away from protecting our right to feel safe and free from the violent acts of others.
Robert E. Panoff, Pinecrest