Today I wanted to post on a subject that many people find incredibly distasteful. I feel a terrible sadness when I think of the sick young man that perpetrated one of the most painful experiences that in my memory.

The gunman that took thirty two lives nearly a year ago at Virginia Tech was a sad sick shell of a person. There had been complaints against him…counselors were called in…a professor in his department was appointed as a mentor…he was assessed and reassessed and never found the help he so desperately needed.

Many people have asked the question, why wasn’t he locked up to protect himself…to protect other people? How could the system let someone who was so obviously sick fall through the cracks? Why didn’t someone do something drastic before it came to this?

The system is flawed…but flawed in such a way as to protect the rights of everyone. It is to protect people who are not mentally ill from being hospitalized or institutionalized. And the system is a many armed beast…so much so that one arm rarely knows what another arm is doing. Definitely not perfect and frequently a recipe for disaster.

What I want to point out is that this young man was a human being with a family…that is what is the most heart wrenching for me. As a mother I cannot imagine the depth of sadness experienced when losing a child. But to find that your child is responsible for not only his own death but the deaths of thirty two other people would be crushing at the very least. I am so very sad and heartbroken at the sense of loss that I feel every time I think of the mother of the shooter and the mothers and families of the victims. You have to think, as a mother, how did this come to pass…what did one mother do that raised a son to be a musician, a daughter to be a dancer and another to be a murderer?

The massacre at Virginia Tech and other such tragic events put in motion by human hand highlight the need for a better system…a system where people who are mentally ill receive the help and education about that help that they need…a system where the average person on the street is educated and can recognize the signs and symptoms of such illness…a society that is willing to look for answers and not look away.

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