Guest column: We must address problems to save more lives

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Guest commentary

After reading many letters by people who think they may have the answer to what caused the horrific tragedy in Newtown, Conn., I decided to write this commentary from the viewpoint of a mother who lost her son to suicide.

This is an extremely complex issue that cannot be solved by doing just one thing. There are or can be many facets to this problem.

Education: It is very important to learn about mental illness. However, there is still a stigma attached to this disease. Many people don't want to talk about it or consider their loved one may be sick. Some people still think you can pull yourself up by your bootstraps and don't need professional help.

Until we can educate parents, teachers, clergy and the entire population, many will not seek or get the help they need.

Recognizing illness at an early age and getting the proper treatment can lead to a healthy, productive life for the individual.

Insurance: When a mental problem is diagnosed, how many people have insurance to pay for this treatment? Insurance for mental health is a dismal failure. Where does the average family turn to get the proper treatment? People need to realize someone with this disease may require care for the rest of his or her life — either medicine or therapy or both, much like a diabetic.

Faith: How differently a person with faith may react to situations that may occur in his or her life. I know a young man who was bullied for many years. He is a fine adult today because of his faith. When my son died, faith gave me the strength to go on and try to help others.

Many vent their anger through faith and prayer, becoming calm instead of violent. This cannot be mandated by legislation. When you have faith the path you choose may enrich your life.

Entertainment: The violence in films and on TV may have an adverse effect on the stability of young people. Some of the lyrics to songs of today are disrespectful and have undertones of violence. Many of these entertainers are idols to our children, and to many of our politicians. Some of the video games certainly don't help lead our kids in the right direction.

Guns: Yes, guns are bad in the hands of the wrong people. But just enacting more legislation is not going to deter people from committing acts of violence. If this is their intent, they will find a way.

I don't have all the answers, but I do think these are some of the problems that need to be addressed.

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