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Hi all. I was prompted to write this particular blog after reading an article on CNN today speaking of how mental health is the weakest link in our health care system. This article also questioned out loud if this latest shooting by someone who clearly has serious mental health issues may have been prevented if there were better treatment options available. What this article focused on was the fact that the Arizona shooter, Jared Loughner, had been openly having mental issues for some time and how this has been the case in dozens of shootings in the past year or two. In Jareds case, one of the examples cited in the article was that a few years back, the community college that he was attending required him to provide documentation that “he was not a danger to himself or others” before they would allow him to return to class. Sadly, measures such as this rarely have any positive effect and it obviously did nothing to alert the proper people of the danger of this individual. The Virgina Tech shootings are another recent memory case of a similar disturbed individual who gave many signs he was close to snapping but, without any system to identify these types of problems or bring attention to them, these warnings often go unheard.

Now what I just said does nothing, at least in my mind, to make excuses for these people’s horrible actions. Mentally ill or not, they still have proven to be a danger to all of us. It’s just when you see these disturbed people popping up with such regularity as we have over the past few years, you have to wonder if there isn’t a better way to possibly identify these situations before they occur so we don’t have to bury another 9-year-old girl. The situation last September at the Discovery channels building was another example of an obviously disturbed person, who had made threatening statements in the past, snapping. His name was James J. Lee. A Web site run by Mr. Lee, SaveThePlanetProtest.com, was established in January 2008. The Web site complains that the Discovery Channel produces programs about the environment for profit, not for humanitarian reasons. Not only did he complain about this but he believed the channel should stop encouraging any more procreation by the human race. When he had the hostages he was threatening to kill them if the channel didnt push more shows on sterilization of the human race. Again, an obviously disturbed person.

I was interested in writing about this particular topic for one other reason. For those of you who don’t know me personally, I have personal experience with the mental health options available in this country as I have had struggles of my own. I am a diagnosed Bi Polar sufferer and only in the last few years, with the help of an amazing doctor in the St Louis area named Phillip Chu, have I been able to see the light of the world again. Over the years, I went to more than a few doctors and counselors and often got the idea that they were just guessing what was wrong with me. One told me “I just needed to be happier” right after I was telling her about suicidal thoughts. Another diagnosed me as schizophrenic after meeting and talking to me for all of 5 minutes. Afterward she gave me a medication to take that immediately had me violently vomiting for hours. These examples don’t even count the times I simply could not afford to regularly go to a counselor or psychiatrist as was suggested by a doctor because I was uninsured and states have been shutting down mental health facilities first every time they need to slash their budget.

Now all that being said, my situation improved because I came across a doctor, through my repeated search for someone to be able to help me figure out how to get my issues under control, that really took the time to not just look for a quick fix but find a permanent solution for me. The medication he prescribes me has changed my life and my friends and family see the difference as night and day. I was lucky though. Many don’t have the support system of family and friends that I had and for those people sometimes by the time others recognize somethings wrong with them it’s too late. Just another problem we should be spending money on as opposed to landing probes on comets and analyzing Mars dirt….just my opinion.

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