What’s the Solution for Shootings?

| March 16, 2018

An article in The New York Times entitled Opening Mental Hospitals Unlikely to Prevent Mass Shootings, Experts Say discusses the predicted effectiveness of increased mental hospitals in response to a proposition by President Trump in the wake of the recent Florida shooting.

The consensus?

Not so effective.

Although it seems like an effective solution, the experts cited in the article maintain that many of the young shooters in recent history would not have met the requirements or manifested the symptoms for admission to a mental hospital. They were merely emotional, angry, or antisocial, which Dr. Michael Stone a forensic psychiatrist at Columbia University, says makes these individuals’ violent outbursts hard to predict or anticipate.

Dr. Stone’s work has focused on the psychology of mass killers, and he claims that if the requirements for a mental institution were fitted to the symptoms of the shooters we have witnessed, half of the country would need to be put into a mental institution.

Articles such as these seem to end in hopelessness, as they present these violent behaviors and tragedies as nearly impossible to pinpoint and prevent.

However, what if the solution were not in laws, institutionalization, or pharmaceuticals?

Considering the digital age we live in, is it crazy to wonder that many people are lonely, anti-social, and emotionally turbulent because they lack community? Because they lack people looking out for their well-being?

Some of my own volunteer work in schools allows me to witness children and the relationship they have with their parents. And increasingly it seems that parents are unaware of their children’s behaviors, their emotional states, and even their happiness. This does not mean that their children are therefore inclined to violence; however, I think it’s not far-fetched to see a path leading to loneliness, misunderstanding, and emotional anxiety as a result of that lack of support and guidance from parents.

Perhaps the real solution our nation needs in the face of so many tragedies is an increase in compassion and courage. Compassion, so that we may see our neighbors and try to understand their emotions, and courage so that we may be brave enough to speak-up and build relationships with others. True relationships beyond a cellphone screen. True relationships based on identity and empathy.