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This weekend a tragedy occurred in Tucson, Arizona. Six persons were shot and 14 others were wounded by a deranged individual. We witnessed the tragedy, we heard the interviews and the nation is in shock. After listening to many media reports it is very plain to see this individual reached out in many ways to get the help that he needed. I ask where were the people who could have prevented this terrible event from happening?
We learned that the individual voiced his opinion in many ways at events before the tragedy occurred but no one seemed to do anything about it. I do not believe that what he did was right nor do I point a finger at any one individual that received letters or interviewed this man before his radical behavior.
I was involved in the creation of a guideline booklet in the state of New York after the Columbine incident. I also had training in suicide prevention. While at a seminar on prevention of incidents such as Columbine a individual came into the room armed with a shotgun. I started to engage the young man in a conversation using the suicide prevention guidelines. I spoke to him calmly and looked straight into his eyes. We talked about his past and why he was so angry. I was praying silently to God for the strength to stop this person from harming us.
At one point I asked to walk up near the person but told him I would allow him his space. After about 15 minutes we heard a shrill sound from a whistle. The situation had been pre-planned to see how the 20 persons in the room would react. The scenario helped us understand the importance of trying to handle a situation if the person allows it. This must be done by a professional or a individual who has had this training.
My point in writing this is to plead with each reader to be aware of those persons who are reaching out for help. Listen, observe and then please act on this. The individual really needs understanding, love, friendship and professional help.
If one person had acted on their instinct, Columbine,Virginia Tech, and other events perhaps could have been avoided. One person can change the outcome of a person's rage without getting hurt themselves.
My own brother was mentally ill. He became a danger to himself and others and out of love and concern he was placed where he could receive help. He was treated and released several times and was released to society. He passed away as a result of choices he made in his life we could not control. The night of his death from a massive heart attack he attended a Billy Graham Crusade. He and several of his friends returned to his apartment to talk about a commitment to God. The Lord took him away that evening but the impact he had on others was not forgotten.
Please observe and help those who cannot help themselves.