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Thu May 26, 2022, 02:28 PM

regret about previous post/question about mental health care and political views

First - earlier today, I posted a comment suggesting that we withhold judgment on the officers in Uvalde who appear to have done little to nothing useful for 40 minutes while the shooter was in the school.

I stand by the sentiment I shared - that we should be careful in calling people cowards without knowing the full facts of the situation. I also stand by my argument that many of you missed this point. I never, at any time, said the officers were courageous. In fact, I never said they weren't cowards. I merely said that I didn't know, and that I could envision situations in which officers might hold off before charging after a shooter in a school building.

A lot of you took exception to that. I still think some of those who did failed to really understand my point, which was not about defending the police or declaring them faultless, but about learning what actually happened before armchair-quarterbacking what other people did. I've seen the same videos and read the same news articles, and I didn't think they carried enough information to really form a solid opinion. Maybe I'm overly careful about such things, but I've had friends who became police officers, which gives me some sense that not all of them are overtly racist nutjobs who just want to shoot things up. (Though too many clearly are!)

Anyway - I do regret that some of you were angered by what I wrote. And I have to say, having done some more research, my views are starting to move closer to the "these cops are worthless" end of the dial and a bit further from "these cops were being careful and deliberate."

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Second - I have a serious question about the mental health angle of this discussion.

I do not, in any way, buy into the argument that the central issue of these mass shootings is mental health. I accept that mental health is a serious part of the problem, but so is the easy access to the kinds of semiautomatic firearms that allow people, mentally ill or not, to kill large numbers of other people in a short amount of time. No one needs an AR-15 to protect themselves or their families, the whole "tree of liberty must be watered with the blood of tyrants" schtick only works if the tyrants aren't better armed than you (and if the "tyrants" really are tyrants in the first place), and one can hunt or target-shoot with a rifle less capable of causing mass casualties.

That being said -

I'm not a fan of relying on anecdote, but when it comes to the relationship between household politics and mental health treatment, anecdote is all I have.

My 12-year-old nephew has very serious behavioral problems. He's been expelled from multiple schools for violent behavior, including his kindergarten when he stabbed a teacher with a pencil. He's also injured his mom (my sister), with whom I have very little contact for a list of reasons I'd rather not discuss here. And on top of that, he's had multiple suicide attempts.

No one seems to know what, exactly, is going on with my nephew. His diagnoses change more frequently than the seasons. It's ADHD. But then, it's not - it's dissociative personality disorder. Then, it becomes Asperger's (which I don't for a minute believe). And then it's back to ADHD, and something else after that. Is it an organic mental health problem? A personality disorder? A developmental problem? Who knows?

Why do we not know? Largely, it's because of his parents. My sister has never really held a job that carries health care benefits, so he's never had any sort of consistent psychiatric or psychological treatment. I suspect a lot of it comes from my sister's "research" on the internet.

his father - a gun-nut who wears a hat from the "National Gun Rights Association," which I think exists because some gun enthusiasts decided the NRA was too pinko - refuses to get him any sort of treatment on his own. Not wanting him "labelled" and all of that. Nothing that a little discipline won't fix. And he refuses to get rid of his guns, even though the number 1 predictor of whether someone contemplating suicide will succeed in that decision is the presence of a gun in the home.

My sister and her ex are both WAY over on the political right. Trump was tolerable, even if he wasn't quite right-wing enough. That their side of things opposes every sort of government action that would make mental health treatment easier to find and more affordable never seems to cross their minds.

My nephew did spend a brief time in an in-patient facility, so he's been seen by actual psychiatrists at least once. But he wasn't there long, and I doubt any follow-up instructions were respected. (From what I heard, he was in the facility at the order of a court following some sort of violent outburst.)

I lot of my friends are parents, and they're all open to getting help for their kids if they need it. Very, very few of my friends are Republicans, and those that are tend to be either (a) old-school New York-type Republicans who are actually conservative and not right-wing, or (b) high school acquaintances who found me on Facebook. So my sample is very low - but based on that small sample, including my sister and a couple of people who somehow completed a high school education without actually learning anything, right-wing people are less likely to get help for their children.

Is what I'm observing based on a skewed distribution of examples, or is there really something to this? Because this could be important - the people calling for better mental health screening might be the least likely to see the need for it under their own roofs.

Honest question here. I could be dead wrong about this. I don't work on humans - I work on crocodiles. They have only two emotions - indifferent and enraged - and their behavior is pretty much the same regardless. So my ability to actually make pronouncements on human mental health is very minimal.

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Reply regret about previous post/question about mental health care and political views (Original post)
cab67 May 2022 OP
chowder66 May 2022 #1
cab67 May 2022 #2
chowder66 May 2022 #3
dutch777 May 2022 #5
dutch777 May 2022 #4

Response to cab67 (Original post)

Thu May 26, 2022, 02:35 PM

1. I have yet to see your original post but I have a question

"Anyway - I do regret that some of you were angered by what I wrote. And I have to say, having done some more research, my views are starting to move closer to the "these cops are worthless" end of the dial and a bit further from "these cops were being careful and deliberate."

What did you read that caused you to think they may have been worthless? Do you have any links?
I haven't been reading a ton about this so any help or insight is appreciated.

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Response to chowder66 (Reply #1)

Thu May 26, 2022, 02:47 PM

2. that they were threatening to Taze some of the parents.

Whatever caution I urge regarding decision-making by the police, I can fully understand what the parents were trying to do. Had my 6-year-old daughter been in that school, it would have taken several officers to hold me back.

The police weren't wrong to keep the parents from running into the school, but their attitude was off. And they could have done a MUCH better job of explaining themselves.

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Response to cab67 (Reply #2)

Thu May 26, 2022, 02:49 PM

3. Oh wow. Thanks.

I'll dig into this over the weekend. Hopefully the picture will be more filled out by then.

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Response to cab67 (Reply #2)

Thu May 26, 2022, 02:59 PM

5. You'd have to taze me!

I'd be at full run through their line and I don't think tazers have much range. I am not saying, yet, that the police acted incorrectly but I know if it was my kid or grandkid in that school, I don't think I could hold myself back.

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Response to cab67 (Original post)

Thu May 26, 2022, 02:55 PM

4. Bottom line on most of your post is...it is hard to know

Your thoughts about the police in the Uvalde tragedy were correct in the first instance. Not enough facts to judge, yet. I do know as a parent I tried and prepare my kid (now 30) that anytime someone comes at you with a loaded gun with apparent malice, if you can't run, attack. Throw anything that is not nailed down at him because most of us who are not ex military can shoot but get real shook when books and chairs and fire extinguishers come flying at us.

Mental health is a huge underdiscussed issue in our country. I retired from hospital administration in a very well to do suburb of Seattle a few years ago. Despite a much higher than average level of quality health insurance and just lots of money in the community compared to the national average, the resources were not nearly adequate to address the need for behavioral health support. Whether it was in schools, the hospital or the broader community there wasn't even 25% of the infrastructure (behavioral health inpatient facilities especially pediatric) or human resources (psychiatrists, psychologists and BH trained nurses and social workers). The police and ER staff end up being the front line in dealing with mental health events, usually to the detriment of all involved. In our medium sized hospital (again a well to do suburb here, not inner city) we averaged one violent physical attack on a front line provider every day. Then there were the much more frequent threats and verbal abuse. Not all was tied to pure BH issues, alcohol and drugs were almost always major contributors. But the end result was rarely adequate or long term treatment, it was band aids, short term fixes and basically, kicking the can down the road.

If you are in a smaller or rural community like Uvalde, even assuming there is a timely mental health diagnosis, I doubt there are many resources that will fix the problem long term. And, I am not sure that just because someone chooses to harm another individual, that implies an underlying mental health condition beyond malice or hatred or political motivation. Mental health should not be every politicians' or perpetrator's excuse in these situations. Damn Gov. Abbott for cuttings $$$ millions from state mental health programs and then trying to excuse the state's role or diminish the tragedy of this event by saying "oh, but he had a mental health issue".

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