Mental health care

December 19, 2012 

STEPHEN GARINGER, Kennewick

The horrific tragedy in Newtown, Conn., is a nightmare for every parent and a terror for every child old enough to understand what happened. People will come forward with "solutions" to such violence, but the fact is that there will be weapons -- whether legal or illegal -- somehow available to the mentally unstable. There are simply too many guns in our society. And unless we the people choose to arm and armor ourselves in like manner, train as elite SWAT teams in the workplace, school, etcetera, and always, always, have our fingers on the trigger, we will be vulnerable to incomprehensible acts such as this one.

What is understandable is that over the past four decades we have dumped the mentally ill on the streets or into their families' reluctant care, all in the name of rights. Yes, the old state mental institutions were often horrendous places for many patients, sometimes for life sentences for the most spurious of reasons. But we must rethink this abandonment of the most mentally ill.

Please, let us not abandon them to the streets. Let us not wait for murder most foul before we do something about them. Treat them or keep them safe, from themselves and from us.

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