When and how do we mitigate the “threshold of imminent danger to self and others” for those who need mental health treatment? How do children, loved ones, neighbors, and educators protect themselves from the risk of a horrifying tragedy waiting to happen?

by | Dec 17, 2012

In the past year, Milwaukee County has turned more toward services in the community, such as the Crisis Resource Center on Milwaukee’s south side. The nonprofit agency has seven bedrooms and offers individuals counseling and comfort.

Anniversary of Giffords shooting, forum turn spotlight to tough issues

By Meg Kissinger of the Journal Sentinel
Jan. 7, 2012

http://www.jsonline.com/features/health/still-groping-for-answers-on-caring-for-mentally-ill-9l3mldo-136892638.html  Quote from this website and article…

“The shootings of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 18 others in a Tucson shopping center a year ago highlighted the issue of getting care for people with untreated mental illness who are dangerous. But it hasn’t settled the question of how to do so most effectively and fairly.

Jared Loughner, 23, charged with killing six people that day and wounding 13 – including Giffords – has pleaded not guilty to 49 charges against him. He awaits trial while a federal judge decides whether authorities can forcibly administer medication for Loughner’s schizophrenia.”

The CT Sandy Hook Elementary School horrific national tragedy will quickly shift to the question of treatment for those with severe mental health disorders and gun control…and rightly so…  But can we ever get past the stigma and our own family secrets before it is too late the next time?  There will be a next time!

My own personal experience as a child and young adult growing up in a household consumed by mental illness shows that we may once again “kick the can down the road.”  My brother and I could have been shot close to 50 years ago when Dad, who carried a gun as a 1st responder, came into our bedroom shaking a gun at us in a most threatening way.  My mother was able to pull Dad back at the time, but the terror and trauma of this event is still vivid in our minds.  My Dad even left his gun on his bed during that time, and our youngest brother, a toddler at the time, accidentally shot the gun into the mattress.  All of us heard the potentially deadly shot in the other room and came rushing into the bedroom to observe the little guy with a smoking gun in his hand…  By the grace of God we are all still alive from these type of experiences in our home as kids and young adults.

We were too scared, terrified, and ignorant as kids to do anything about any of these horrible incidents that occurred either with guns, emotional tantrums, or physical abuse.  Our only course of action was to think about our escape.  How in hell do we get out of this crazy place called home?

I have written in my book, and on this blog about this very issue many times.  All of us keep talking about it, writing about it, and attempting to do something about it while we wait for the next time…  As President Obama indicated last night, we will not have to wait very long for the next time.  I believe President Obama will have to step up on this highly charged political issue and lead our children to safety.  It is clear the rest of us as humans walk a fine line of confused emotions, self preservation, and ignorance, and will continue to take the path of least resistance until the “next time.”  How does it feel to know that we are going to wait around again and again for the next horrific killing of innocent children and adults by a disturbed person? 

We were lucky as a family a very long time ago that none of us nor others were killed while my father struggled severely with the symptoms of moral injury and PTSD…a legacy of life after war…  Dad had no treatment whatsoever.  How many others, probably countless, are hesitant to receive treatment because of the stigma connected with mental health challenges?  We shall wait and see…for the “next time.”

Steve Sparks
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story

About the author

Steve Sparks is a retired information technology sales and marketing executive with over 35 years of industry experience, including a Bachelors’ in Management from St. Mary’s College. His creative outlet is as a non-fiction author, writing about his roots as a post-WWII US Navy military child growing up in the 1950s-1960s.
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