It is hard to believe another year has passed. 2012 has been an eventful year for the USA: from the stellar success of U.S. athletes at the London Olympics, to the re-election of our first African American president, and most recently, the loss of innocent lives, including 20 young children at Sandy Hook Elementary school.
So while we celebrate the ending of one year and anticipate the beginning of the next, we feel it is important to take a moment to pause and consider what happened Friday morning at the elementary school in Connecticut. No matter your stance on gun control and mental health, there seems to be consensus that something must change.
As health care professionals, we have a responsibility to the community to notify proper authorities if a patient or client is a threat to the community. Yet we also have a responsibility to educate the community that mental illness does not always mean crazy, dangerous lunatics with a gun who will go on a shooting rampage. As a member of society we have a responsibility to ourselves and each other as well. So let your voice be heard and let your actions lead the way. Be part of the solution. Ideas are welcome.
While I don’t normally make New Year’s Resolutions, this year it seems appropriate to share my wishes for the new year instead. My first plea and hope for 2013 is that the debate on gun control laws is peacefully renewed. Whether the Sandy Hook killer had a mental illness or not, he should not have had easy access to semiautomatic weapons. I think both sides can agree on that. My second plea and hope for the coming year is that healthcare professionals advocate for the community and government to assist those with mental illness. It is no secret that many individuals with mental illness do not get the help they need because funding has been reduced. My third plea and hope is that health care professionals take the time to help the community understand this disease and reduce the associated stigma to allow those suffering obtain the necessary help.
In the midst of the horrifying chaos, one of the Sandy Hook teachers told her students that if they believed in the power of prayer, then pray. Whatever your own beliefs may be, let’s take a moment to remember the innocent lives lost in Connecticut and work to have some good come from this tragedy in 2013.
Kari Johnson PT, DPT and all the Allied Health Professionals staff.