We can’t ignore mental illness

Published 9:00 am Friday, December 21, 2012

While the nation debates yet again about creating more gun control laws, the issue of taking better care of the mentally ill should be included.

There is the question of whether Adam Lanza was outright evil or insane as he shot 20 children and six adults on Dec. 14 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., before taking his own life.

If investigators can show the former, let his name be forgotten and his malice lessened through consolation and healing where possible. Should the investigation point to mental illness, then Lanza deserves at best some pity.

Meanwhile, there are countless Americans who merit our compassion — a quality not always synonymous with pity — because they suffer from disorders such as schizophrenia and paranoia. These conditions can cloud rational thinking and acting properly in society.

Chances are good you know someone who suffers from mental illness. Those with erratic behavior can certainly be off-putting, if not sometimes scary.

But rather than turning away and ignoring them, we urge facing the problem head-on and seeking ways to find them professional help.

We also recommend mental health professionals take a closer look at their patients, particularly those who could be a threat to others and themselves. Further, we ask that local governments find ways to increase budget funding that can help agencies treat the mentally ill.