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This just in, another shooting this time in Jacksonville, Florida. A shooting occurred at a gaming tournament and 2 people were killed and others were wounded. The world watched again in horror as they watched the news. But I will reiterate this again: Mental Health is NO LAUGHING MATTER. Mental illness is a very serious disease. Why isn’t change happening? Why aren’t we doing anything about it? Communication and taking action is SO important and also recognizing red flags is crucial too.

I watched the news and read articles online about the shooting and I said: “Why? Again? What are we doing wrong? What should we be doing?” I can’t stress this enough when I say that mental health is scary. For some people living with mental illness, they are very violent and for others like me, we’re not. Some isolate themselves from society and find solace in their own world.  I quickly pictured in my head as what went down as I heard the news. Picture a lot of people playing games for money and most of them are professional gamers. Some of these people are probably the best in the world and some are probably addicted to gaming in general. I’m not here to judge. But was crystal clear was that this particular suspect suffered from some kind of mental illness such as depression and acted out in violence and sought out gaming to suppress his inner demons. When this suspect did lose a game and his money, he pulled out a gun and killed two people. He injured several more people.

Many fellow gamers probably thought that the gunshots were just special effects of the games and didn’t realize that it was an actual gun. But this man had a mission. He was obsessed with video games, suffered from mental illness, was treated and prescribed medications, and ended two lives before ending his. This kind of story about mass shootings and terror are all too common in this world. It’s like we’re immune or numb to this now. This is not good. This shouldn’t be the new normal. Think about what happens when we don’t talk about mental health. Some people go undiagnosed and some kill or harm people. That’s scary.

If you notice that there’s something off with someone, take notice and do something. How many people have been affected by violence attributed to mental health? A lot! The mass shootings in Jacksonville, Sante Fe High School, Parkland High School, Columbine, Newton, Southerland Springs, Pulse Nightclub shooting, and others are just some of the terror we’ve experienced in the past 20 years. Take a good look at Baltimore and Chicago. Shootings happen way too much every single day and minute there. Shootings happen everywhere. Violence is everywhere.

But do you know that the number one link behind these shootings and terror events is: mental illness! Think about it. It may sound controversial, but just think. Why would a normal rational human being kill their fellow man for no reason? There’s always a reason as to why people kill others and when there’s no motive, that’s even more terrifying. As of today, it was released that the shooter had mental illness and had some personal problems for a while. So I will ask you again: What can we do as a society regarding mental illness? Do we need to educate everyone on this subject matter? Are you noticing the red flags such as withdrawn from society, isolation, persistent sadness, loneliness, violent behavior and etc? 

Whatever goes on in your life both good or bad, you need to learn how to handle situations. I’m not trying to preach, but it’s the truth. I will not lie when I say that I could be violent if I didn’t seek help. I suffered from mental illness for 25 years and I could inflict pain on others, but I don’t. Instead, I educate people on this subject matter. Witnessing a terrible crime is something that I’ve seen before. I’ve had someone pull a gun at me and on people that I know. This is scary. My mother is a schizophrenic and she gets very violent during depressive episodes. My dad and I keep anything that can be construed as a weapon out of her reach. She’s tried committing suicide before. So I will you again, recognize the red flags.

We can’t keep pushing this under rug and not doing a thing. Think of all of the families that have been affected by all of these tragedies over the years. Losing a loved one to violence is tough. Violence is always preventable if you step up and do something. (Sometimes it’s out of your control and happens too fast before you can react.) All of those people affected by violence caused by someone who’s mentally ill are now experiencing their own kind of mental illness. Think about it. You witness that horrific event, you become injured, and you see the carnage. You hear the blood curdling screams, see people innocently gunned down, people are crying and some are dying. The scene is reminiscent of a horror film or a war zone. That kind of event can trigger mental illness. Environmental factors like a traumatic experience causes this faster than you can say BOO! Post traumatic stress disorder along with depression will kick you in the butt so fast in a blink of an eye. That event becomes your new nightmare. A nightmare that stalks your every move. It’s a distorted broken record playing over and over in your mind. You’re forever haunted by this. This person’s inner demons and pain are now yours. This is not by choice, but by accident. Believe me, I’ve dealt with PTSD after a crime and it’s a movie that will not stop playing in my head.

I couldn’t imagine surviving a shooting. Living with chronic pain from the wounds and the new nightmare: mental illness, would probably set me over the edge. How do you overcome a tragedy like that? For most victims’ families’ they would say that they’re forever broken inside and will never be the same. I would too.

It all starts with you. As a human being with a life and family and friends, take care of yourself. Start treating people with more respect and love. Remember the Golden Rule. Also go beyond that and help others in need. We can change this world and we can do it. We can educate others about mental health and how important it is to stay healthy. If you need treatment, then seek it. There’s no shame in seeking treatment and no shame in sharing your story. Who cares what others say about mental health. If we continue to not take action and let violence occur over and over again, then more and more lives will be affected. We all have lives and families. Talk about mental health. It’s not that hard.



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