A closer look

Published 9:09 pm Wednesday, July 25, 2012

In the days since the Colorado shooting tragedy, there has been a lot of talk about gun control, violence in the media and mental illness. Many of those doing the talking have predicted that no change will come from this unfortunate event. We will rehash the same issues, and then push them out of our minds until the next tragedy inevitably occurs.
There is no panacea to these mass shootings, but this country is capable of doing more than paying lip service to the issues involved.
Over the years, violent acts have been the seeds to major campaigns and changes.
Code Adam, the country’s largest child-safety program, started as a tribute to Adam Walsh, a 6-year-old who was abducted from a Sears department store, then killed.
The AMBER Alert System had similar beginnings. In 1996, Dallas-Fort Worth broadcasters teamed up with police to help find abducted children. The system was a legacy to 9-year-old Amber Hagerman, who was kidnapped and murdered in Arlington, Texas.
The Columbine High School shooting left a legacy, too. Rachel Scott, the first student killed that day, left a journal that inspired a nonprofit program called Rachel’s Challenge.
Shortly before her death, Scott wrote, “I have this theory that if one person can go out of their way to show compassion, then it will start a chain reaction of the same. People will never know how far a little kindness can go.”
Those words were the impetus for a program to stop bullying in schools.
Sometimes, the best reaction to tragedy is to take action. The shooting happened more than 1,700 miles away from Beaufort County. But, it could have just as easily happened here.
Though the debate continues about gun-control policies, most will agree that mental illness is at the core of what happened in Aurora, Colo.
FoxNews.com and Reuters reported this week that Aurora, Colo., shooting suspect James Holmes allegedly mailed a notebook containing his plans to a psychiatrist days before the attack.
“Inside the package was a notebook full of details about how he was going to kill people. There were drawings of what he was going to do in it — drawings and illustrations of the massacre,” said the FoxNews.com report.
What resources were available to Holmes and what could have been done to get him the treatment he needed before it resulted in violence?
We need to take a closer look at how we tend to those who are mentally ill. Maybe then these deaths won’t be in vain.