We’re still sorting through the tragic events that occurred last week in Tucson, Arizona, but one thing’s clear: the alleged gunman, Jared Lee Loughner, is suffering from some type of mental health problem.
The National Institute of Mental Health keeps track of the prevalence of mental illness in America. Whatever’s troubling Loughner, he’s not alone in his pain.
There’s no condoning his actions, by any means, but Loughner, too, is a victim in this tragedy. All the pain affecting the survivors and their families, and the families of those who died, originated in the shooter. His actions are an extension of the suffering he must have endured internally.
Mental illness does just that–it never affects in isolation but instead feeds off the heartache it causes in the lives of the sufferer’s family and friends. There are wounds that ail us every day, hidden wounds that, even when we seek treatment, continue to fester.
But this doesn’t mean that someone like Jared Lee Loughner couldn’t have benefited from help. We need to take mental health seriously and assist all who require our care. We need to take the stigma out of mental illness, so that we all might lead better lives and stop hurting each other because we hurt so much.