PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Yesterday’s shooting is just one of many multiple killings that have people around the country calling for better gun control and help for those with mental illness.
Thursday, a local congressman pushed for more legislation to help prevent another tragedy.
“It is the court’s intention that the defendant never set foot in free society again,” said Judge Carlos A. Samour Jr. as he sentenced Colorado theatre killer James Holmes to 12 life sentences plus 3,318 years in prison.
Twelve people died and 70 were wounded in Holmes’ attack in an Aurora, Colo. movie theatre, the judge adding, “Get the defendant out of my courtroom.”
It was an unusual showing of judicial disgust and it came on the same day as the Roanoke attack.
Mass shootings have become the tombstones along the timeline of our lives. Columbine 13 dead, Virginia Tech 32 dead, Sandy Hook 27 dead, Charleston 9 dead, Lafayette, Louisiana 3 dead and the slaying of reporter Alison Parker and photographer Adam Ward yesterday live on WDBJ7 in Roanoke, Va.
“This is extremely frustrating,” says Congressman Tim Murphy, “and at this point I have to put part of the blame on congress for inaction.”
Congressman Murphy, who is a Psychologist, believes his languishing mental health reform bill could slow the parade of faces of the shooters and the dead that have become all too familiar in our daily new cycles.
In virtually every case, someone before the shooting was concerned about the shooter’s mental health. Even the shooter in Roanoke described himself in his writings as “a time bomb” waiting to go off.
Congressman Murphy says, “putting this off and hoping it would go away just means we are enabling this type of problem to continue. People with serious mental health issues need serious mental help.”
In our workplaces, and in our communities Congressman Murphy says we may be concerned about someone but powerless to do anything, and there’s no way to know who will go off next.
UPMC Western Psychiatric Institute’s Dr. Edward Mulvey agrees there is no way to predict who might act out next but he adds, “What we need to be doing is reaching out to people and not deciding you are one of them and I need to avoid you, and not talk to you, or move you away.”
Mulvey says not all mental health patients will turn to violence and not all mass shooters have mental health problems. But he says everyone goes through emotional highs and lows, “Rather than trying to figure out who’s going to do it, the trick is how do we engage people constructively in our workplaces, or in our families, so that when they are going through those cycles we are able to reach out to them and help them, or get them some professional help.”
Congressman Murphy says his bill would make treatment available to more people, erase the insurance gap, and give families and mental health professionals the power to be more proactive rather than reactive.
Dr. Mulvey cautions, “If we think that just making better mental health access is going to reduce the occurrences of these (shootings), we’re not going to get those results out of it. We should put a lot of money into mental health because we should be putting a lot of money into mental health, but not because we are never going to have mass shootings again.”
Congressman Murphy also talked with KDKA Radio’s Mike Pintek Friday. You can listen to his interview here:
If you have concern about someone in your family or someone you work with Dr Mulvey says you can contact:
Resolve Crisis Network — Any Day, Any Time, Any Reason. 1-888-7-YOU CAN (1-888-796-8226) or go online at upmc.com.