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Mental Illness Plays Major Role in Connecticut School Shooting

 

It is widely agreed upon that the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School this past December was one of the most horrific events in recent years.  However, the motive of Adam Lanza is something that still baffles us all.  It is difficult to fathom who could commit such an act and why they would do so.  Although most would already assume that Lanza was obviously mentally unstable, new evidence has been revealed that gives us a little more insight on his condition.

Upon searching his home, authorities found an arsenal of weapons including multiple samurai swords, nine knives, rifles, a 7-foot long dual bladed pole and over 1,000 rounds of ammunition (Barrabi).  This may not be too surprising to people considering the violent nature of his crime.  What is surprising however, are the numerous books that were found on mental illness.  Lanza had multiple publications that contained detailed information on autism, Asperger’s syndrome and a bookmarked text titled “Train Your Brain to Get Happy”.  Along with these were an NRA certificate with his name on it, an NRA guide to pistol shooting and several journals (Barrabi).  This discovery helps give investigators a better idea of Lanza’s personality and state of mind prior to the shooting.

Mental illness is a huge problem in today’s society that affects millions. Around 26% of Americans suffer from some type of diagnosable mental disorder in a given year (Mental Disorders in America).  This includes anything from depression, to autism to anxiety and more.  The sad fact is that most of these cases go untreated.  Around a quarter of those people have what is considered a serious mental illness that drastically affects their personality, productivity and quality of life.  Adam Lanza was clearly one of those people.  His serious illness went untreated for years and ended in catastrophe.  The books that were discovered unveil the fact that he was aware of his disorders and was perhaps attempting to do something about them.  In most cases, fighting mental illness is a battle that cannot be won alone.  Support is vital to anyone in recovery whether it is through their family, friends or a therapist.

The question has now been raised as to whether or not something more could have been done to prevent this fatal incident.  If Lanza had been properly treated for his various disorders, would he have chosen to commit this violent act? Many feel that if he had received the help he needed, the entire catastrophe could and would have been avoided.  Adam was nothing more than a sick person that just never acquired the cure to his disease.  Although he had been surrounded by guns for much of his life and often went to shooting ranges with his mother (whom he gunned down prior to visiting the elementary school), Lanza was never described as a violent individual.  In fact, his former high school teachers described him as quite reserved and intelligent.  He was also known to isolate a lot and didn’t have very many friends.

Loneliness and depression combined with an ill mind can often end in tragedy. As a result of his social anxiety, Lanza didn’t tell anyone about his condition or ask for any known help.  Sadly, this is often the case in many people suffering from similar disorders.  The silver lining of this atrocity may be an increase in awareness for those who struggle with depression and other mental illnesses. Who knows what could have gone differently if someone had reached out to Lanza and helped him work through his issues. Mental disorders can break down even the strongest people but as with most diseases, recovery is possible.

Works Cited

Barrabi, Tom. IB Times. 28 March 2013. 29 March 2013. <http://www.ibtimes.com/adam-lanza-newtown-shooter-had-arsenal-weapons-books-mental-illness-search-warrants-say-1159177>.

Mental Disorders in America. 2013. 29 March 2013. <http://www.thekimfoundation.org/html/about_mental_ill/statistics.html>.

 

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Filed under: Conditions and Disorders, Latest News, Mental Illness · Tags: Adam Lanza, anxiety, Asperger's Syndrome, autism, autism spectrum disorder, depression, guns, isolate, Loneliness, mental illness, Recovery, Sandy Hook

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