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Seattle Times letters to the editor

May 28, 2014 at 4:43 PM

Santa Barbara killings: It takes a village to help the mentally ill

A community has been devastated by the acts of a “madman” — a young perpetrator of violence with a history of emotional distress since childhood. Sheriff’s deputies found no evidence he met criteria for an involuntary psychiatric hospitalization. He legally purchased the firearms used in the assaults. We are again reminded of inadequacies in our gun-control laws and of difficulties determining when an individual with mental issues is a danger to himself or herself, or to others.  Faulty gun laws and laws that govern the treatment of the mentally ill have colluded, leading to destruction and death again.

We need stiffer gun control and better ways to evaluate an individual’s needs for involuntary commitment and treatment in King County and Washington state, but there’s something else we need:  increased mental health awareness in our communities to bring mental illness out of the darkness and to help end shame, blame and isolation.

Community safety nets must be strengthened for anguished parents fighting for their children’s mental health. No less than a village is necessary to raise all children. Until our communities become informed, hands-on villages offering support for all their families, the deadly rampages won’t be easily stopped.

Susan Millender, executive director of Guided Pathways – Support for Youth & Families, Kent

Comments | More in Mental illness | Topics: gun control, mental illness, Santa Barbara

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