Mental Illness and the Parkland High School Shooting

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Courtesy of Rolling Stone

“Don’t be a snitch.”

“Blatantly crying out.”

“A mental health issue.”

“Don’t politicize this.”

Yes, the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is an issue of mental health. Americans are not efficiently directing their attention to how mental disorders affect “Generation Z” on a daily basis. But more and more Americans, and people worldwide, are beginning to turn towards the issues that develop from adolescent mental health.

One cannot disregard the political platform this tragedy has struck. Gun control remains one of the most divisive topics in American politics. You cannot say “don’t politicize this event”. You cannot attribute this horrific incident only to a mental health concern that was not handled properly. You cannot continue to cast those suffering from mental illness as a hopeless danger and expendable scourge to society. At least some accountability must siphoned into our inability to properly detect and treat these illnesses in the first place.

The antecedents of this massacre cannot be individually isolated. If this teenager was inflicted with a severe mental disorder, step back and take a look at the social and psychological factors. His behavior was described as strange and startling to his fellow JROTC members. He was obsessed with weaponry and harming small animals such as lizards and squirrels. This teenager had lost both of his parents less than two months after his nineteenth birthday. His younger brother was seized from his temporary home with a family friend for an involuntary psychiatric exam, issued by the state of Florida. If this scenario was anonymous, would you be concerned for his mental health? Would you put a semi-automatic assault rifle in his hands?

To ask someone not to politicize this horrific event is to ask them to ignore history, to ignore statistics, to ignore the past and all 138 people who lost their lives to a school shooting. To simply memorialize the students and faculty that lost their lives to this massacre, and those who are forever traumatized by it, is to forget. It is to ignore and to continue to normalize and desensitize younger generations. And quite frankly, we are not ready to forget. Tear this story to pieces, America. FBI, Congress, psychologists, forensic analysts, students, teachers, victims, students, teachers, Americans: analyze his every movement, victim, weapon, motive. Take it apart. Learn from it. Add the numbers to your charts. Learn something. Do something. Take this, and let it be the last. Let it be the last time a mother has to sit at her own child’s funeral. Let it be the last time we question our safety every time we enter a building. Let it be the last time we let the world question the stability of not only our citizens and government, but of our country. Let it be the last.

 

-Nawaal Ahmad