Today’s inexplicable violence at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut resulted in the murder of twenty-six innocent people. Already there are people pushing the political agenda for gun control. Once again, the real issue is being ignored.
According to the timeline presented by law enforcement, the shooter first killed his mother by shooting her in the face. Then he went to the school where his mother work and shot twenty children and several adults.
Guns were the weapon, but the cause was domestic violence and mental illness. It cannot be anything else. In the coming days we will learn more, but no normal person does what this murderer did…they just don’t.
When I was a kid, my sister was anti-social, manipulative and had an uncanny sense of finding and going after the place where someone was emotionally most vulnerable. Her long fingernails were weapons and I stopped biting my nails just so I could protect myself. I know what it’s like to live with someone with whom you can be the best friend when you go to bed but be the mortal enemy in the morning. My sister’s behaviors were largely ignored because my mother made excuses for them, dismissing them by explaining that my sister was “moody” but would grow out of it. She didn’t.
Except for me, no family member would acknowledge my sister’s mental illness…until my sister’s first suicide attempt. Then everyone acted like it was a shock. My mother blamed my sister’s spouse.
In the coming days I’ll guess we’ll learn the same things about this Connecticut shooter and the Oregon mall shooter as well. We’ll find out there were signs (there always are), probably dating back to early childhood. Sadly, it’s easier for families to ignore mental illness than acknowledge it – right up until the “big blow-up” that forces everyone to pay attention. In my sister’s case, the violence was self-directed. In other cases, innocent people die.
As a society, we have to look more closely at the issues of emotional intelligence. Domestic abuse, domestic violence and mental illness can all be traced back to a lack of emotional intelligence. My sister wasn’t evil then and isn’t now, but I often wonder if my sister would be in a better place in life if, instead of excusing her bad behaviors, she’d gotten help.
If you are living with or know someone who is “troubled”, there are places to go for help. Start with NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness. They have resources for you for dealing with the mentally ill. Today they have suggestions for helping your own children deal with today’s very sad news. Visit: http://www.nami.org
If you missed my take on the NFL murder-suicide, read it here: NFL Murder