Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Mental Health Madness


How many wake-up calls do we need before mental illness is taken seriously in this country? We'll never know for sure what exactly inspired Seung-Hui Cho to shoot and kill 32 innocent students, but we can be pretty sure mental illness had something to do with it considering his background and bizarre behavior. There will always be people like Cho and we can do nothing about that but we can create an environment where people like this are less likely to cause us so much pain.

The first thing we can do is to make sure people with a history of severe mental illness cannot purchase a semi-automatic weapon capable of firing more than 170 rounds in nine minutes. Why would anyone, mentally ill or not, need a weapon like that in this country?

In addition, we can create a mental health system that treats and takes care of people with mental illness instead of one that can make those of us that are mentally healthy, mentally ill.

Former reporter, Pete Earley, of The Washington Post, and author of Crazy: A Father's Search Through America's Mental Health Madness could not get his mentally ill son help despite his psychotic behavior and finally had to lie and say his son threatened to kill him when he did not. His son was diagnosed with three types of disorders by three different doctors; Rapid Cycling Bipolar Disorder, a mood disorder, Schizophrenia, a thought disorder, or Schizoaffective Disorder, a combination of both mood and thought disorder, the final diagnosis being Rapid Cycling Bipolar Disorder.

Mr. Earley went on to discover, in his own words, "the maze of contradictions, disparities and Catch-22's that make up America's mental health system."

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