Monday, February 21, 2011

When Tragedy Strikes

It has happened again.   An individual with severe and untreated mental illness has committed a violent act.  Newscasts blare calling him a Deranged Killer and Mad Man.  Frightening mug shots are plastered on every news outlet imaginable.  Armchair commentators call for the death penalty, blame the family, and ferociously try to derail this family of any humanity.  Pundits wring their hands and wonder how something like this could have happened.  Again.  Not only is the stigma of mental illness being reinforced, it is allowed to take on a ferocious life of its own.
    It stops us cold; those of us who love someone with severe mental illness.  We know full well how it could have happened and that it will happen again.   Until it is easier for our loved ones to access appropriate treatment early. Until it is unheard of to allow someone to spiral downward into a nightmare of psychosis without someone, somewhere along the way, doing everything possible to obtain treatment for this person.  Until community-based treatment options are fully funded and available to all in need.
    We worry that people will consider all individuals with mental illness dangerous.  We know that most are not; they are in fact, vulnerable to being victimized.  We know that these individuals bring richness and depth to our lives and that we have much to learn and benefit from them.  Our hearts go out to all of the victims of violence in these tragic circumstances.  We extend this compassion to the family of the perpetrator.  Except for the blame and shame cast on them, their suffering in this situation is ignored.  We cannot begin to imagine what suffering they experience.  But, we may well offer up a prayer for them and say to ourselves, "There but the grace of God go I."


  1. I agree. The compassionate have the gift of insight to know "they are us." God bless us all. We suffer, but through suffering we learn.

  2. "We worry that people will consider all individuals with mental illness dangerous. We know that most are not; they are in fact, vulnerable to being victimized"

    I quoted the above lines that strikes me the most. I am married to someone with mental illness called schizophrenia. Being deprived to see his children in a "normal" basis because of the word "dangerous". Frustrating as hell but life has to move one... while here I am loving him with all what he got.. I was being judge as in denial with the illness, even worst manipulator.

    Your blog is inspiring. Please allow me to put them on my side bar. Thanks!

  3. Thanks, Vichygurl. The stigma against people with serious mental illness is devastating. As you point out, those of us who love them are often negatively labeled as well.
    My very best wishes to you and your husband. It would be my pleasure to have this blog on your side bar.
    Thanks again!


Site Meter