In the wake of the Aurora movie massacre, people are still
trying to understand what happened. Experts, such as mental health
personnel and city officials, have been trying to offer insights
and solutions. Yet, we struggle to comprehend such a senseless act.
Is it even possible for rational, law abiding citizens to
understand irrational violence? Can we find an answer that will
lead us to say, “Okay, now that makes sense”?
How can we stop the insanity? There is one who can shed some
light on insanity. Someone who has a unique perspective. The
Little attention has been given to the mother of the shooter.
Some wonder, “What happened in his childhood that led him to do
such a thing? What kind of parent raises a child who would commit
such a horrific act?”
The mother of the shooter could tell you what kind of parent
raises a child with mental illness (MI). She must have suspected
something was wrong. Surely she had suspicions and fears.
Perhaps she worried what her son might do. But, could she have
imagined that the torment in her son’s head would tear through the
hearts and lives of so many innocent victims? Could she have
predicted her own son would be capable of committing such
destruction? Was there anything she could have done to prevent the
What kind of life did she have? What was she thinking? How did
I don’t know the shooter’s mother, but I can imagine what she’s
feeling. I know what it’s like to watch a talented, brilliant
teenager “snap.” Years ago, our son, Chris, was diagnosed with
schizoaffective disorder. In his junior year of high school, he had
a break from reality. Voices inside his head told him to assault my
husband and me. The parents he loved.
Before Chris began medicine to treat his MI, I knew he was
unstable. Rambling words droned from his mouth in a constant flow.
I witnessed bizarre behaviors and longed for a predictable life. I
sensed impending doom.
His psychiatrist said he needed to be hospitalized. I agreed.
But, my husband and I felt helpless. Laws regarding involuntary
commitment prevented us from forcing Chris to be hospitalized.
Unless we could prove he was a danger to himself or others, we
couldn’t commit him against his will. Technically, Chris hadn’t
posed a threat to himself or us. Those constraining laws made me
feel like a hostage in my own home.
But, our son didn’t commit mass murder. He got the help he
needed. Chris benefitted from early diagnosis and treatment.
Statistics show he’s in the minority.
There is still so much shame and stigma surrounding MI. The
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) shares startling facts
about children’s mental health in our country. On their
website, they report that most of children suffering with MI
fail to be identified or get proper treatment and support. How many
are we talking about? Millions.
All of those millions of individuals have a mom. Are you like
me, a mom with a child who has mental illness? We need to speak up,
come together, and support one another. I’ve created a blog just for moms like
us. Show others the face of MI.
What do you want
others to know?