Navy Yard shooting, guns, Mental Health

Today we know a bit more about the “shooter” at the Navy Yard in D.C. We also know that some of the “live on the spot” news was wrong. The funny bit (humor amid so much tragedy) in this whole mess is that the official US Navy twitter feed really had accurate information.

The script followed by the media during the coverage of the shooting at the Navy Yard in Washington is an all-too-familiar one. The story has unfolded in confusing, conflicting pieces, in real time, in front of viewers and on Twitter. And, just as in Newtown, and in Boston, key mistakes have been repeated.

The Navy itself proved to be a chief source of news at the outset:

: confirms active shooter at Washington Navy Yard. More to follow.

Apparently, according to the twitter “feeds” on HuffPo  some of the hair brained media in their attempt to be the “first” were merely twitting what they heard on the Police scanner.

Bolling Air Force Base spokesman tells me no shooting there, despite scanner traffic (and ABC report).

Now reporters are digging into the “shooter’s” history and it would seem that the signs were there — yep the Mental Health issues. Guns and military — I’m not going there. Other than to say–  guns on military bases when I was growing up on military bases, were very common. Guns were in the homes and some men in uniform carried side fire arms. The men who where making the spy fights were armed and trained and qualified to use a variety of weapons. There was never any gun violence on any of the Navy bases I grew up on. Today I was told that there are tighter on base fire arm/gun restrictions, then back in the cold war era. My guess it that visual weapons relate to the mission of the particular military base or installation.

Americans need to discuss how individuals who have real mental health problems are able to get their hand on weapons with mass killing potential. Colorado — movie house — high victim count, Sandy Hook, N.J. — School — high victim count. US Navy Base — high victim count — all three shooters had sever mental health issues. The first two were diagnosed — the most current one — so far I’ve not seen that he had any professional evaluation. Remember that these are rare events — mentally ill shooter and mass murders — meaning that the vast majority of people with some form of mental illness do not become violent.

Mental Health is something we need to talk about as a Nation — all of us. We need to figure out how to take the stigma out of someone going to a Mental Health professional — either the talk therapy or the Mental health issues which need treatment with psychiatric drugs. We also need to realize that pills won’t take care of all Mental Health issues — that even if a person requires heavy duty Psychiatric intervention that this must be followed up with some form of talk therapy and support.

Back in the bad old days crazy people were locked away in attics and or dumped in insane asylums. When I was researching my family tree in the old 1900 -1930 Census reports I found some of these insane asylums under different names. The treatment for mental illness in 1930 and earlier was primitive. Mental illness was often treated with various forms of torture — isolation, hot and cold baths, electric shock, forced feeding. It is no wonder that the insane asylums were closed, once the treatment of the inmates was exposed.

Community based treatment was supposed to have closed the gap between the insane asylums and the short term involuntary commitment. In most places no community based support ever emerged. Some hospitals perhaps saw this as a way to make money — rural American has some stories to tell — as do First Responders. Today many of the “crazy people” end up in Jails — where their treatment is similar to the primitive insane asylums of the last century. There are drugs and these are tossed at jail inmates with a diagnosis and prescription from one of the walk by shrinks.

The cops get called when someone acts really crazy — and cops do what cops do — and the crazy person goes away. This is no way to deal with mental illness.  [See: Teplin LA. Criminalizing mental disorder: the comparative arrest rate of the mentally ill. Am Psychol.1984;39:794–803. [PubMed]]

This tradegy reminds us that a tiny minority of people with mental illness can get their hands on killing sticks and do a lot of harm. It would seem like the threat from someone with untreated mental illness is greater than the threat of terrorists. I’m wondering how the NSA and one of the other spy agencies who spend BILLIONS of dollars might respond to the fact that they missed another “shooter” who killed 12 people.

Seems like some of those Billions and Billions of dollars being wasted on spying on, We the People, might be better spent on the epidemic of untreated Mental illness in America. Might I even suggest that some of the Top Spies might need to visit a Shrink. Namely the jerk who built a Star Trek bridge to lure Congress critters to vote more money for spying on Americans. Oh my — does that mean that Congress Critters should have a Psychiatric evaluation??

For more information about the Severe Lack of Psychiatric Resources check out this link. Psychiatrists are only one option — for those that do not need drugs or who need talk therapy as well as drugs — Psychologists are also working on the front lines of treating those with Mental Illness. One of the reasons why America has such a major problem with untreated mental illness is because of the lack of awareness of some of the symptoms and causes of mental illness. Many people have been lulled into the mistaken belief is that just a diagnosis and a prescription will make mental illness go away. Even the experts make mistakes and misdiagnose mental illness. One of the many reasons why the walk by shrinks tossing out pills isn’t how people with mental illness should be treated.

If we learn that the Navy Yard shooter was indeed suffering from some sort of mental illness (see update below) — we need to ask why none of his superior officers noticed. Perhaps the “shooter” was able to hide his mental illness. Some people are aware that they are not “normal” and have perfected being/acting normal.

My Behavior Science Degrees are in Psychology, Anthropology and Sociology. I actually have more units in Anthropology because that is and will always be my true calling. I also have a MA in counseling and some post Grad work in Psychology. But I have real life experience with a crazy person — my younger sister has been misdiagnosed etc. throughout her life. Some whacked out fools believe that Mental Illness is the result of sin — or some such mythology. Back when I was in college — Governor Raygun had emptied the mental Hospitals and the state rented cheap housing for the formally locked up inmates of State Hospitals. Many of these people ended up living in the cheap housing around college campuses. Not much has improved.

Shall we start counting down the days until the next shooter hits the news — and we can again watch the media make fools of themselves. The NSA will still spy on all of us — and they won’t or can’t stop another mass shooting. Mental Health is a very difficult subject — no wonder twerking gets more attention.

Alexis had been suffering a host of serious mental problems, including paranoia and a sleep disorder, and had been hearing voices in his head, according to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the criminal investigation was still going on.
 Since the source for this news item is anonymous — I’d say we need much more information — especially about the diagnosis and treatment and the competence of the Mental Health professionals. The Fort Hood Shooter was a Psychiatrist — so this profession isn’t blemish free. Also some psychologists are dropping their professional membership from the APA because of the involvement of Psychologist in torture of military prisoners etc.

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