I am not about to get political with you over what happened in Arizona this weekend (my husband does that much better and with more color than I do), but I don’t want to remain silent either. I’ve been trying to come up with something to say in addition to the expression of sadness and outrage over this tragedy, and I think the area in which I’m most equipped to make a comment or two is not in the debate over what is and isn’t acceptable political rhetoric, or whether or not you should have to jump through more hoops to buy a gun than you do a car. It’s this:
If any good dialogue comes out of this mess, please let part of it be about mental illness and access to treatment.
Did Loughner have access to mental health care? Did he seek it? Did he even know to seek it? Did anyone who cared about him urge him to get help? If he had wanted help, would he have been able to afford it?
I don’t know the answers to any of these questions, but for most people who suffer from a mental illness, the answer to each and every one of them is almost always NO. And the result is all too often a life of debilitating sadness, occasionally suicide, and in this rare instance a mass killing.
My contribution to this dialogue: don’t be afraid to tell someone you care about that you are worried about them. You guys did that for me, and you saved my life.