Is Society Responsible for the Acts of the Mentally Ill?

Katherine Trunk is a regular contributor to The Brenner Brief.

Katherine Trunk is a regular contributor to The Brenner Brief.

Two words: Newtown, Connecticut. Replayed violence, mass casualties. The Dec. 13 event finitely ripped apart and carried away many children’s lives. Teacher guardians, a principal and the perpetrator’s mother were struck down.

The massacre that was Newtown begs many valid questions. Our nation is taking stock of what we value  most  and what we should do as a people to prevent such atrocities in the future.  The unmistakable pall which drapes America should not become a regular garment.How did this aggressive event materialize and coalesce? Indeed, how did so many massacres occur during just this past year alone?  As with individual cases, what are the environmental factors to consider in a troubled society? What is the prescription towards abating the recent scourge of violence and its subsequent grief?  A reality check needs to be made and hard questions need to be asked.

What was the state of mind of the perpetrators?

Continually there seems to be a recurring answer to the above question.

How did such perpetrators gain access to lethal weaponry?

Culpability with regard to security lapses should be determined. Note that legislation with threat of punishment with regard to underage  alcohol on homeowner’s property sought to limit drunk driving. I feel that analogous measures should be promoted  and swiftly administered with heavy penalty if another’s weapon is used in an assault by a known, mentally unstable perpetrator. There is never an excuse for a person with dangerous mental illness to be able to seize or secure a gun. Culpability should, in the same measure, extend toward those who sell weapons knowingly to a mentally ill person.

What is main stream media’s role in the horrific events spiralling out of control? In my opinion, the main stream media has been partially responsible for continually promoting a violent message as a steady diet. It seems that the market is the dog which wags the tail. Viewer consumption of blood and guts, and minute by minute detail may include viewers in society which are violently and mentally unstable.

As much as I disagree with Harvey Weinstein about mostly everything, I do give him credit for earnestly re-evaluating media and screen imagery as it relates with violence in society.Perhaps responsible, less sensationalistic news reporting by the main stream media would create a safer environment. I would also suggest to them that numerous and effective public outreach programs geared toward the issue of mental illness, or even messaged throughout popular shows, could do much in the way of promoting a healthier society.




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