Mental health needs to be addressed in this country

By: CNM Chronicle Editorial Board

Yet another random act of multiple killings has occurred, this time in Santa Monica, Ca. on June 7. Six people were shot and killed on a rampage that began with the gunman killing two male family members and ended at the Santa Monica Community College library, with the shooter using what police have confirmed was an AR-15 assault rifle.

It is disturbing to contemplate that it could have been here; it could have been our school library where this carnage ended, or at any community college campus, for that matter. In August of 2005, five victims, including two police officers, were killed in a senseless rampage by John Hyde on Central Avenue in Albuquerque, and just this April when 24-year-old Lawrence Carpener stabbed four people at a Catholic church in NW Albuquerque in an unprovoked attack. This is becoming a widespread epidemic and nothing is being done about it; the incidence of mass killings keeps going up.

When the Reagan administration shut down all public and state run mental institutions in the 80s, the result was complete pandemonium. The skyrocketing petty and violent crimes even caused the state of California to consider involuntary commitment laws after this massive change by our government.

The courts incarcerated mentally ill people in our country in the prison systems instead, similar to the pro­cess in the early 1900s when these public institutions were first estab­lished. The gross conditions that the mentally ill have suffered throughout history have been rife with negligence and downright cruel.

These people are now placed in the general popu­lation of prisons and don’t receive the care they need, making the problems worse than when the afflicted had originally been incarcerated. Unless people can afford counseling and med­ication, there are no real resources to take care of this problem, which has gotten out of control as mass killings have become a more common occur­rence throughout the country.

No one wants to care or pay for the proper attention of people who are mentally ill. State, federal government and prison systems have all been neglect­ful of this ever growing issue. It truly is a travesty that no one is seeing the bigger problem here: mental health is an issue that has been ignored for far too long.

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