In Light of Uvalde: America is Part of this Problem: Part 1

Screenshot of victims, 19 school children and two adults at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas, from WKMG News Report, Orlando, YouTube video
Screenshot of victims, 19 school children and two adults at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas, from WKMG News Report, Orlando, YouTube video

I know someone who knows a thing or two about grief and sorrow, about violence in America; someone who every morning steps out the front door of her home to deal with the most tragic situations imaginable to help people who are victimized by and through a torrent of unspeakable acts these times in this country produce. She helps them all because she is committed to caring beyond the norm. That’s why she does the work she does. She’s my daughter, the Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). I want to share what she wrote about the tragedy in Uvalde, Texas. Not because she has the answer, but because she has an answer; I’ve highlighted some portions of particular note:

The theme is young males who are having their first significant psychiatric episode, most often, schizophrenia.

The story is warning signs that people around them miss, minimize, and don’t report.

The truth is we don’t have a mental health system that can overcome the legal challenge of intervening when an adult is presenting with ENOUGH capacity that their care cannot be forced. And even if it could be, it often isn’t sufficient at 3 days with a discharge home and the patient themselves put in charge of organizing their after care.

That is IF the patient gets care at all. Because most don’t.

Because they are functioning ENOUGH that everyone just thinks they are really weird, creepy, and avoid them as best they can.

AND IF the family does try to get help they soon learn there isn’t much help to get, because facilities, programs, case managers, housing, providers — they can’t force care without consent, and when they can get consent, it costs money. Insurance only goes so far. If they have it. And young men, who are acting unusually, and are paranoid, often aren’t working or in jobs that offer insurance. Guns. Laws won’t stop the use of them.

I am ALL for gun control. Mainly for the requirement of submission of a psychological screening every 4 years and certification in a gun safety course.

But that won’t stop people from getting guns who shouldn’t have them. It will stop some. But not all. This isn’t all a mental health issue. There are people with pervasive mental health disorders ALL over our world who do not commit mass murders. This is a 3 part problem.

It’s mental health, gun control, AND our society. Yes, America is part of this problem. We have an obsession with violence. It’s everywhere. It’s been normalized in video games, movies, TV shows — and in life. We are so [de]sensitized to violence that people can sit through stomach churning torture TV like it’s “entertainment”. So you want to do something? Consider your own habits, your children’s habits. Are you part of the issue? Because we [as individuals] can’t enact laws or create a truly transformative mental health system, but we can choose to STOP allowing the media, Hollywood, celebrities, and social media to glorify violence. Maybe we can start there.

Because these young men, with pervasive mental health issues, are living out fantasies that are driven by what they see on TV, for entertainment, and for real. I’m not a person who believes in censorship, but dig deeper and consider why you’re attracted to violence to “relax” watching a movie? What does seeing images of torture bring up within that it’s appealing to you? Yes my friends, we have issues. As a society. It’s time we get real.

Our children and teens NEED us to stop glorifying violence.

We buy the tickets. We buy the cable. We buy the games. We DRIVE what the industry produces. Protect them. It starts with us. I will never ever advocate for censorship, but I do advocate for the use of consumer demand tactics. They give us what we will buy, and they make us crave it. Violence is the media sugar. I’m doing my part. There is a lot I can’t control but I already boycott all violent TV shows, movies, and games. I’m starting with myself. Join me.

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Recipient, 2015 Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Awards, his chapbook Political is the 2021 American Writing Awards winner in poetry; see https://bit.ly/3MHXYQO

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Howard Richard Debs

Howard Richard Debs

Recipient, 2015 Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Awards, his chapbook Political is the 2021 American Writing Awards winner in poetry; see https://bit.ly/3MHXYQO

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