Change Must Happen

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Change Must Happen

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I work at a University on the west coast. I was the first to arrive in our hallway on April 16th. I had left my apt at 7a.m., which would have been 10 a.m. on the east coast and there had been no mention of the first shootings. Fifty minutes later when I arrived on campus it was on CNN.com. As the hours passed the death count kept rising. What was going on? Finally by the afternoon the news media had been able to get a handle on what had happened and so did we, thousands of miles away. I notice security making frequent passes, which always makes me nervous. I thought of Columbine and those that had lost their lives and the survivors that had and will always struggle with what happened. Here we go again.

Over the past couple of weeks as more unfolds, praise has been given to the heroes and criticism to the administration on how they dealt with the emergency. I feel the administration did the best they could that day with the information they had. Hind-sight is 20/20! The faculty and students who raised several previous red flags about Cho did the best they could. People died that day. In honor of them let's not point fingers, instead lets learn something and make some rational and educated changes. Most importantly communicate these changes. I have suggested to our Dean that there be a mandatory on line disaster/emergency course to be taken on line. Its impossible to cover all scenarios, but lets try and get everybody on the same page. If we have to do it for financial procedures and HIPAA, why not something that could save a life and possibly many.

I realize that dealing with mentally ill people is a very complicated problem because it deals with civil liberties. People in the mental health profession are afraid any changes might alienate people from getting any help. I hope that things do change and that things become a little less gray when it come to being able to do something about seriously troubled individuals especially on college campuses. Faculty administrators and students should be able to protect themselves with out the fear of getting sued, threatening to quit or drop a class all because of one individual.

Perhaps one thing that might help mental health professionals receive fewer patients in the future is to seriously address bullying. Teachers need to be educated on what to look for. Currently they are noticing 25% of what is actually happening. Students need be taught that it is a horrible thing to do that has consequences. If not immediate then down the road and is Cho's case.

I went to the on-line blogs on April 17th and was very surprised to see that all the conversation was around gun control instead of the actually tragedy that had happened. I am glad to see that this week VA has change the gun laws that will not let anyone who has been found to be dangerous and ordered to undergo involuntary mental health treatment to be able to purchase a gun. That should become a national law! 60 minutes aired a piece titled "Armed and Dangerous". Steve Kroft interviewed Gun Owners of America, its former president, Michael Faenza. I was dumbfounded by Faenza's point of view.

"If we want to be serious about handguns, targeting people with mental illness is not the place to start," Faenza said.

"It seems like the perfect place to start if you know that somebody is psychotic and delusional and may not know the difference between right and wrong," Kroft remarks.

"But when we're talking about intruding on the medical privacy of a class of people in this country that are already discriminated against, that is really a step in the wrong direction," Faenza replied.

"As a matter of common sense, it seems like a good idea to try and keep firearms out of the hands of people who don't know the difference between right and wrong. Call me crazy, call me irresponsible," Kroft said.

There is also the topic of violence, which actually I haven't heard much about. Personally I think there is too much violence on TV and especially in regard to video games. There is no denying although you might try that people get desensitized. If you see enough blood your mind just learns to deal with it. It's human nature. I am not saying we need to go back to the 1950 and "Leave It Too Beaver", but we don't need video games where the entire point is to see how many 'people' you can kill'.

A horrific event happened in our country on April 16, 2007, but there is a lot of positive change that can happen. Lets make those changes in the memory of those who died and survived that day.

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Wendy Christiansen

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2007-05-01

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Wendy Christiansen

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eng

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Wendy Christiansen, "Change Must Happen," in The April 16 Archive, Item #64, http://www.april16archive.org/items/show/64 (accessed October 25, 2014).