jesse marshall steinberg, 1969-1990There was a terribly sad post yesterday from a woman whose 13-year-old son is violent, coming after her and his siblings with knives, threatening suicide regularly. He’s as yet undiagnosed. They don’t know what’s wrong with him. I told my mom about the post, and she cried for that woman she doesn’t know.

Within minutes, people were tweeting a takedown of the “garbage” post. The woman was “stigmatizing” mental illness by saying her son was violent. One graf:

The article, with this link established, implies a desire to stop violent crime allegedly perpetrated by those with mental illness should motivate better care and provision for those with mental illness, and not, say, the lower life expectancy, unemployment, isolation, suicidality, homelessness, victimization or in general the suffering endured by those with it. The continual disregard for this reality perpetuates stigma on all levels of society and further exposes those with mental illness to harm.

It is somehow a zero-sum game between stopping violent crime “allegedly” perpetrated by those with mental illness and addressing their sad prospects. Also, only people with mental illness suffer because of mental illness, and not, say, their caretakers who love them. Also also, the woman had told only her own point-of-view instead of her son’s, as if that were possible. There are six such points. I found none of them convincing. Maybe you would! I’m not the boss of you! (Who am I kidding, of course I am.)

Within hours, other people on the web pointed out the woman loved Reagan, made her son hike up mountains, and even wrote about fantasizing about throttling him.

I want to murder my son all the time. I probably want to murder him right now, and he just cheerfully fetched me a cup of coffee. That, however, is not the point. The point is that now, if you say someone must have been insane to shoot up a school full of children without a state-sanctioned purpose, you are saying people with mental illnesses are all mass murderers.

This is — how to say — not a rational response. Which is more dehumanizing: saying someone who would shoot up a school must have something wrong in their brain (an “illness,” “mentally,” as it were) or saying the person is an evil monster?

I got it for hours on Twitter yesterday from people who said I was slurring the mentally ill by saying anyone who would do that kind of violence must be, by definition, mentally ill. I got dozens of haranguing, aggressive tweets from a man who claimed he’d just logically shown there was more of a correlation between rape and mass murder than mental illness and mass murder. (He hadn’t.) He asserted the problem was the “changing narrative” in our culture — so “violent video games” I guess. People said I was an ignorant hack, tarring all mentally ill people with the violence brush. It didn’t matter how often I explained that nobody was saying all mentally ill people are violent, or even more likely to commit violence. There is a difference between depression, bipolar disorder, paranoid schizophrenia, and whatever it is that causes someone to go on a spree killing. I am a big fat asshole.

The picture above is my big brother Jesse. Jesse was the handsomest, funniest guy in the world. Where the rest of us were awkward poorly socialized nerds, he was popular, golden, built like two brick walls. Once he wore girls’ boots to high school, thinking they were unisex. Nobody said a word.

Then he called my mom, from New York, where he’d gone to live after high school. He’d gotten beaten up by a guy for staring at him too long. He didn’t sound right. He came home. He was 19, and believed he was the reincarnation of Brian Jones. He was textbook, classic, immediate diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia.

He rarely talked, just rocked back and forth on his heels. In one of the few conversations he had with my mom where he told her what he was hearing, he told her it wasn’t fair: my little brother, then just seven, got to be Brian Jones now.

We believed this meant my little brother would have to die so Jesse would get to be Brian Jones again.

He was 21 years old when he hanged himself in our back yard, from the rope swing that the police thoughtfully threw up into the tree branches so we wouldn’t have to see it, still there, up too high to cut down. He’d already tried it twice before: throwing himself a cliff, and, the night before his 21st birthday, eating a bowl of rat poison, with a spoon. He’d gotten out of the mental hospital a few weeks before maybe, I don’t remember. Oddly enough, the doctors had declared him well enough to go home the very day my mom’s inpatient insurance ran out. So weird!

To this day my mom and I are convinced that the reason Jesse hanged himself was to protect us and my little brother. He didn’t want to give in and harm us. My mom sees him as Christlike, in fact. I don’t think she’s far off.

Living with my brother was scary and sad and enraging. I was 17 when he died, and it was up to me to watch both my brothers until my mom dragged in from her hour-on-a-good-day commute. The day he was released from the mental hospital after his second suicide attempt (again, the very day my mom’s inpatient coverage ran out), he called me from a payphone to come get him. They didn’t call my mom. They gave him a quarter and had his 17-year-old sister pick him up.

My brother was dead within weeks. My little brother, who’d just turned eight, was the one who found him. Jesse had hanged himself in the tree outside John’s window. He was wearing his soft, warm flannel pajamas. He never hurt us. But the only help we got — from our community, from the state — was the cops who cut him down too fucking late.

Maybe Liza Long, who wrote about her violent son, is a lying monster who only cares about pageviews. Or maybe she is at the end of her rope, and her “media tour” I’m seeing ripped apart online springs from actually trying to get help for families like hers. What the fuck do you know about it, you nasty fucking mean girls on Twitter?

I drove to Thousand Oaks last night to have dinner with my big sister’s friends I’ve known since elementary school. Their little sister — who was my friend — died three years ago from mental illness. A woman I hadn’t met before was good friends with my other brother’s best friend, before he killed himself a year or so back. He’d been diagnosed as depressive for a long time. There were seven people at that dinner party. We all had someone who was dead. None of them got a lick of help.

Before I got there, I drove to the house where Jesse hanged himself, while I listened to the interfaith vigil on NPR. I sat outside for a minute. Looked at their lights, the new paving stones on the driveway, the flat-screen glowing through the window. It looked warm, nice. The tree’s still there.

Donate with CCDonate with CC
  • thatsitfortheother1

    I got nuthin.

  • freakishlywrong

    I read that. I sobbed. The majority of twaters are also wingnuts. Take that to heart.

    • LizzyBorden1

      Can't figure out how to just post my own. I am 8th child in a family of 10. My sister was the oldest and born normal. At 9 months she had a bad reaction to a vaccine and her brain was fried (keep your panties on, all my siblings and I, as well as our children are very pro vaccine). When she was 10, my parents made the heart-wrenching decision to institutionalize her. My one brother tells me his only memories of Christmas with Tishy was being shoved into a tree. The brothers were told, because of Tishy's condition, when she decided to rough house with her 1year old mentality, they couldn't fight back or even defend themselves, lest Tishy got hurt or started to seize. I was born when she was 14. I vaguely remember Pennhurst, her first placement. But then she was moved to White Haven, which was real nice. Then in 01 she was put in a group home because they were starting to close down one of the few fine institutions for the mentally disable. She died in 05, 34 years after her 20th birthday, which the doctors said she would never see.

      • Beowoof

        I am so sorry to hear what happened to your sister. My brother, the second of us, was caught in the birth canal, lost oxygen and was brain damaged as a result. He was "slow" for his entire life. There was never a better person. He was kind and gentle. His ashes are my counter, he passed after a long battle with heart disease, and I spent a lot of the last year of his life caring for him. My third brother was autistic. He just passed away back in September. Add to that mix, a psycho alcoholic father who got drunk and pounded the shit out of everyone. Life sucked. The point is the mental illness of my father touched us all, and those who were least able to defend themselves took the brunt of his abuse. Today, I think Dad would be in jail, rather than the grave he drank himself into at 37.

  • noodlesalad

    Very, very sorry for your loss. Awful, awful, awful.

    The rabid, hateful reaction from the right-wing to the killing of these children has been horrendous to witness. I take heart from the fact that the majority of Americans (and all Wonketeers) are kind, warm people who really do care about the well-being of others, feel empathy, and want to make the world a safer place for the young, the sick, and everyone else.

    My only hope is that this tragedy continues to force us to make these commitments to each other aloud, affirming that we want our community to be a better place. Only this will counter the "go-it-alone" Apocalyptos out there who want us all to live in the same state of fear and righteousness that they must find so coldly comforting.

    • comrad_darkness

      They invent those stupid "reasons" for the tragedy to stave off fear. But it doesn't help the next victims one stupid bit that they do that.

  • dr_giraud

    The sociopaths are out in force. Better to get pissed than despair, or–as our media betters will say–go along with the fiction that mental health care is too expensive and banning guns is too hard.

    Cokie Roberts was on NPR this morning jabbering about how this new spirit of unity might lead to a deal on the fiscal cliff. She wasn't sure that anything will be done about guns, and had no opinion on related mental health-care issues. In short: Mass murder of kids = knocking more olds off Medicare = WIN.

    • not that Dewey

      Cokie Roberts — ugh. I turned off NPR this morning with a record scratch sound the moment I heard "joining us now, as she does most Mondays…" I had just had a terrible cry while listening to clips of Barry's talk from last night, and damned if I was gonna ruin that feeling with one phoneme out of that disingenuous pro-death asshole's mouth.

      • thatsitfortheother1

        WTF kind of name is Cokie? Even for a nickname?

        • not that Dewey

          A socialite asshole's name.

        • sullivanst


          • Botlrokit

            I like Cokie.

  • HistoriCat

    1) I wish I could hug everyone who actually gets it.
    2) Thank you for this post Rebecca.
    3) I saw some of those guys tweets – I'm going to be charitable and say that his emotions got the better of him because his arguments were illogical bullshit.
    4) In general, people just suck.
    5) "I’m not the boss of you! (Who am I kidding, of course I am.)" – Yes, you are!

    • sewollef

      I don't have family stories like that Becca. They are shit awful stories and I'm sad for your loss. I cried over the weekend reading the shit awful stories from CT. Cried from anger.

      My sibling older brother is still alive and 'normalish' – if we call normal, retiring early 'cos he's good with money and investments, drives his fucking M3 BMW and owns a villa in southern Spain, where he plays golf and tennis.

      Personally, I think all that is perverted and screwed up. But that's just me.

      After my mother died of lung infections and I watched my father die of lung cancer and I got divorced, all within a 2-month period, I had a cathartic experience where I went on a 'rampage' English-stylee.

      I put all my ex's favourite pieces of pottery and trinkets and stuff she'd left behind into a box. I took the box outside and smashed every single piece by throwing them against the side wall of my house and then taking a hammer to the remains to pound them into dust. I cried most of the time.

      My neighbours who watched all this take place, thought I'd lost my mind and was 'crazy'. I combined all that with listening to Springsteen's album Nebraska over and over, where I sobbed for hour after hour.

      It wasn't a good time for me…. but this was England. We don't have free and easy access to guns. I'm better now. Mostly.

  • snowpointsecret

    I… I can't really come up with much to say. It's terrible what you had to go through, and all these people coming up for reasons to hate you for saying that really sicken me. Saying mental illness may have played some role isn't even close to saying all people with mental illness are possible killers and these people just don't seem to get that.

    • thatsitfortheother1

      One of my siblings had a bout with clinical depression. Afterwards, he asked his girlfriend if she wasn't afraid of him while it was happening. She said "No. Because basically you were afraid of your blanket."

  • Biel_ze_Bubba

    I'm sure there's a pretty short list of options for dealing with such a child.
    I'm also sure that teaching him how to use semi-automatic weapons, and keeping a small arsenal in the basement, are things that are not on the list.

    • thatsitfortheother1

      Sounded like Ma had her own set of issues.

    • Nope not on the list. My son's therapists told me to get any and everything that could hurt someone else or himself far out of reach, locked down, or destroyed.

      Guns, knives, ropes, meds, tools, bats, anything, everything and things I never thought of (food processor blades for example). I for the life of me cannot see mysel saying oh hey my family member has some issues. I know…guns!

      • PugglesRule

        We had to lock up the knives in the Henckel carving set for awhile. We always try to keep the meds locked up in a 1.1 cu ft. fire safe. Unfortunately I have occasionally left my keys where GTT could find them and he's gone into the meds locker and tried to OD on medication. I believe that suicidal people, if they are really in the depths of suicidal ideation, are very inventive about finding ways to harm themselves. IMO it's a miracle GTT is still alive – and he's only 16.

        • sullivanst

          While obviously there are exceptions to the rule, the majority of people experiencing suicidal thoughts are actually not very determined.

          The suicide rate in Britain substantially declined when the domestic gas supply was switched from (highly toxic) coal gas to (barely toxic at all) methane, thus eliminating what had been one of the preferred, and obviously one of the most easily accessible, methods of suicide – sticking one's head in the oven.

          A couple of decades later another substantial decline in the suicide rate was achieved by erecting fences at locations notorious for "jumpers".

          There are studies showing that most people who are talked out of suicide attempts do not try again in the next five years.

          This is not to say this applies to your family member – it's certainly highly plausible that where the suicide ideation is associated with an underlying, long-term mental disorder, there is more determination. However, statistically it is the case that suicide rates can be greatly reduced by the simple expedient of make the act more difficult. And the easiest, and most effective, way of killing yourself in the USA is with a gun.

      • Biel_ze_Bubba

        Food processor blades are wicked sharp, and can be vicious in their natural habitat (lurking beneath the suds.) I have the scars to prove it.

    • Terry

      Mom was a doomsday prepper. She was hoarding food and all, too.

      • Which raises an interesting question: how much does the "Mayan apocalypse" play into this idiot's mental state?

        I'm speculating wayyyyy off the grid, but there's a ring of truth here. Maybe he thought he was protecting the kids from this Friday?

      • Biel_ze_Bubba

        Mom expecting the apocalypse? FFS. Great way to cheer up your depressive kid, mom! What a total clusterfuck.

        • Terry

          Worse yet. Mom training him to shoot in anticipation of the apocalypse.

          • sullivanst

            As my wife said of Nancy Lanza, from the point of view of not having to find a way to come to terms of what her son did at least partially with her enablement, "She's lucky she's dead".

  • Tio_Doidinho

    Thank you for sharing that. I'm so sorry.

  • Loch_Nessosaur

    There probably isn't a family in the US that doesn't have someone with mental health issues. Unfortunately, there's no mental health program in the US. All doctors want to do is prescribe fucking Zyprexa and hope they never see the patient again.

    I'm sad for your loss and I understand your outrage. Anyone who has dealt with this knew just by looking at the pictures of guys like Jerad Loughner or James Holmes or Adam Lanza that there was mental illness at work here and their families had no idea where to go or what to do. However, buying guns are no problem.

    So talk about it all you want and tell anyone to fuck off if they don't like it.

    • mrpuma2u

      There used to be some semblance of a mental health care system, but the Raygun started gutting it, and it never really has stopped. Rahmbo has closed city mental health clinics here in Chicago (can't afford it, sorry indigent schizophrenics, you're screwed) These twatting jaggoffs of the "Mental health care for the poorz is shoshulizm" ilk are selfish, short sighted morons incapable of empathizing with another's plight.

      • Geminisunmars

        And they don't get that "another's plight" is all of our plights. Health care, mental and otherwise, affects all of society.

  • Biel_ze_Bubba

    The NYT has an article on how Newtown is home to numerous gun nuts:
    "Much of the gunfire and the explosions reported by residents to the police in recent months came from a spot less than three miles from their house. Police logs identified the spot as one of the town’s many unlicensed gun ranges, where the familiar noise of hunting rifles has grown to include automatic gunfire and explosions that have shaken houses."

    These nutjobs sportsmen "have taken to loading their targets with an explosive called Tannerite, which detonates when bullets strike it." Just as the Founders, and Jeebus, intended.

    • glasspusher

      Hey Biel,
      Yeah, I just got done reading that myself. It will be very interesting to see how this plays out in Newtown. Something's gotta give. Seems they have quite the shoot-em-up-for-fun-clubs there. My take, seriously, enough is enough. Having fun is one thing, allowing deadly stuff to become pervasive because of it is quite enough. The killer's mom was one of them, and we all see where that got her. Look at your hobbies, people! If they seriously increase your chance of death without providing a benefit (like mountain climbing), WTF?

      • thatsitfortheother1

        Easy on climbing. Climbers likely only kill themselves.

        • glasspusher

          Oh, I should have been clearer- I meant mountain climbing could be risky at times, but it does provide a benefit(exercise). So sez the climber, writing from Yosemite this morning, after a good hike yesterday.

          • thatsitfortheother1

            Nice. I've stood at the bottom of the nose on El Cap and craned my neck. Couldn't even see how you get on that thing.

      • The bizarre part of this equation: I spend a fair amount of time in areas that a) make Newtown look like a thriving metropolis and b) border on state land.

        You never, and I mean never hear automatic weapon fire, not even during hunting season when the drunks come around and people have to protect from trespassers. And there are plenty of shootin' clubs around me.

        • HuddledMass

          Seriously. I move around the New England landscape quite a bit and the only time I hear an occasional gunshot is in the very wilds of Vermont during hunting season. That Newtown place is a radical exception. I hope.

      • Biel_ze_Bubba

        These goobers are just like 12-year-olds with a bag full of M-80s … blowing shit up is great fun. WHEN YOU'RE 12 YEARS OLD, assholes. Grow up, FFS!

        • glasspusher

          Exactly, Bielz…I went through my “blow shit up” period back then too. Made my own fireworks. By the time I hit my late teens I was getting tired of the booms and had moved on to pretty colors and sounds.I know how to make the “blow shit up” stuff better than ever, owing to the fact that chemistry is my day job, but how often do I do it anymore? Uh, never.I'll second your Grow Up and throw in a few FFS more for good measure.

    • Lot_49

      Unlicensed firing ranges—there's something anyone who's ever been around live fire in a controlled environment finds profoundly frightening.

      And automatic weapons! Machine guns!

      We're doomed! You know those wise-ass wingnuts who say the constitution isn't a suicide pact, usually to justify torturing somebody? If we don't repeal the Second Amendment, or clarify its meaning, it soon will be!

      • Biel_ze_Bubba

        Spraying high-velocity rounds into uncontrolled woods and brush in a suburban area, not knowing if anybody's there. What could possibly go wrong?

    • sullivanst

      Probably all love the episodes of Pawn Stars where they take guns, or cannon, to the firing range and play around with tannerite.

    • larrykat

      Hell, you can buy those exploding Targets right at our local Fleet Farm here in the Badger State.

    • avocats

      Which means what? Was Mrs. Lanza one of the "nutjobs" who were target shooting at gun ranges? I doubt it. You might wait until the facts are in before you demonize this mother.

      • Biel_ze_Bubba

        She was a gunner, but she probably used the legit range. The kid, probably not so much.

  • Barbara_

    Rebecca, is there anything I can do to make you feel better?

    • commiegirl99

      I feel fine Barbie. The dinner with my friends was outstandingly wonderful after yesterday's shit-show.

      • Barbara_

        I was reading the shit-show on twitter was I was slogging my way through the puppy -kitty adoption at Pet Smart yesterday. I was crying on little kittens and stuffing them in my pockets and throwing twenty dollar bills at puppies to try to make them happy. They got puppy spit on all the money and now the bank is going to be annoyed.

        Today will be a better day!

        • Terry

          Pet Smart! I didn't think of that. I was using and the cat shaming tumblr for mental relief.

        • stefanbc

          My giant fat cat is getting sick and tired of being randomly hugged at this point. But as his soft belly of fur and fat is helping me from raging out at some Senator's twitter feed right now the kitty is just going to have to deal with the attention for now.

      • Probably cathartic too, I would think, getting this down in wriitng and sharing.
        As Freakish pointed out — teh twitterz can be a magnet for looney-cakes — esp. on topics, no matter how personally near to heart or logically presented, that remain complex enough in nature for the first douchebag within earshot to find a ~140 bit nugget and call out as "over-simplifying!" or "over-generalizing."

        The remarkable thing about your site — your marketplace of ideas, here at wonkette — is even though folks here are coming from a shared angle most cases, I never feel it's an "echo chamber," for enough variety of opinion does get voiced here without users getting slashed to pieces. Politically grounded expression thrives here and for that I'm grateful.

    • avocats

      Rebecca–I feel the same way. I found "I am Adam Lanza's mother" profoundly moving.

  • Lot_49

    If the kid who did Newtown isn't mentally ill, then there isn't such a thing as mental illness.

    • SnarkOff

      I feel deeply sad for Adam Lanza. I felt deeply sorry for the Columbine shooters. Those poor, poor lost boys. Imagine how desperate they must have been.

      • axonneuron

        It's true, they were victims in their own way. Also….I think this is one of the few places you could come to say that and not get savagely attacked. At least lately.

        • SnarkOff

          Yes, I could only feel safe saying that here. It's much more popular/easy to call these shooters evil and be done with it.

    • As someone who suffers from mental illness (bipolar), and who has been hospitalized often enough to meet people with every conceivable diagnosis, my impression is that most violent crimes are committed by people with personality disorders ( narcissistic, borderline, etc) as opposed to the type of mental illness that is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain (i.e. schizophrenia, bipolar, depression, etc). People with these types of mental illness are far more likely to be the victims of violent crime than perpetrators of it. Personality disorders and biological mental illness are two different things (my opinion), and lumping them together does indeed increase the stigma of people suffering from biological mental illness.

      • Lizzietish81

        Interesting. But is there really a sharp divide between personality disorders and chemical imbalances?

        And really aren't personality disorders often the result of a chemical imbalance. Remember Ted Kazinsky, the Unabomber? Came from a totally normal family.

        And really this kid's family doesn't seem abusive or out of the ordinary, so likely his illness was caused by a chemical imbalance.

        And in cases of environmental causes (ie abuse) mental illness can be exacerbated by those conditions caused by chemical imbalances. My mom was probably chemically bi polar, but her father's treatment didn't help, and it turned her into an abusive person, which was exacerbated by my brother's mental illness, which is now worse than it should be because of the abuse he went through.

        my point is that you really can't call them "two different things" because they often overlap.

        • Kacjzinski (?) was subject to some of the most brutal psychological testing anyone has ever done to a volunteer, however.

          By the CIA

        • Agreed. A very long and nuanced discussion could take place on this topic without coming to any hard and fast conclusions. The genetic, biological and environmental causes of these conditions are far from being understood. I guess I'm just tired of having myself equated in the mind of the public with a narcissist or sociopath, and my statement was coming from that place of resentment.

          • Nothingisamiss

            I hear ya. Amen to that. I'm not sure there's an answer to that resentment.

      • Lot_49

        No offense intended, and thanks for that thought. Broad-brush labels are almost always unfair.

        • No worries, not offended at all. Just opening discussion.

      • Terry

        Some of the articles are saying that Adam Lanza had some sort of condition where he couldn't feel pain and that his mother said he'd been burning himself with lighters in recent days.

        I had no idea that was a real thing.

        • Biel_ze_Bubba
          • Terry

            Can you imagine a kid with that learning to walk?

        • Sparky

          I wonder if he had been formally diagnosed with that- surely it would be obvious early in childhood, as when learning to walk. I have read a parent's account of it on another site, and it was evident early, and required continuous close monitoring even in situations one wouldn't think twice about.

          Or was it noted when he approached his teen years, and if so, could have been a self- harm method to manage emotional pain.

          Gavin DeBecker in The Gift of Fear centers his book around this point: there are always signs before something goes wrong.

      • sullivanst

        I've never heard it suggested before that the DSM Axis I disorders are all caused by chemical imbalance, nor that none of the DSM Axis II disorders are. Given that there's some disagreement between DSM and ICD about what's a principal disorder versus what's a personality disorder, I'd think that's a tough case to make.

        It would be easy to interpret your comment as seeking to avoid stigma being attached to principal disorders by simply transferring it onto personality disorders.

        • Sully, I believe you are right. And it certainly sounds like you know more about this subject matter than I do. Though it can be hard for me to admit, I am prejudiced against people with personality disorders. Being raised by two narcissists can do that to a person. People who have no empathy and treat others as objects bother me more than people who hear voices or fly across the country in the middle of the night for no reason. While this may be understandable, that does not let me off the hook. The mistake I make is to see personality disorders as a moral failing, and to feel superior. It is true that as a nice middle aged bipolar lady who takes her damn meds and goes to her damn therapy, I am far less likely to commit a violent crime than a sociopath or even a regular guy with “anger management” issues, and many people dont understand that which hurts me and pisses me off. But I can best cope with those feelings by cultivating compassion for people with all illnesses. I just spent 50 minutes talking about this with my shrink, lol. So thanks for making me think.

          • sullivanst

            None of us are entirely free from internal prejudice, the trick is self-knowledge and compensation, and it's hard to keep that up all the time.

            Whatever knowledge I may have is the result of powerful curiosity, at one time motivated by a close family member's mental health crisis – thankfully short-lived, but very emotional at the time, since it was in the schizophreniform spectrum and he was 18. Part of my coping mechanism was to read like hell. The definitions in DSM are all very nuanced and overlapping, and the personality disorder definitions in particular cover a lot of ground that people used to think of as simply someone being "just a bad person", sometimes it's tough to see where the line is. This is especially so when a lack of empathy is involved.

  • SnarkOff

    It doesn't matter what idiots think of you, Rebecca. It doesn't matter what they think of any of us. Their opinions are worthless. Thank you for sharing your story.

  • Lizzietish81

    Honestly I can't understand what the critics are even saying. I read the statements and my brain isn't parsing them or something.

    When I started therapy I was asked about mental illness in my family. I laughed and asked the therapist how long she had cause this was going to take awhile. My mom was manic depressive and committed slow suicide by not taking care of herself, depression practically gallops in both sides, my sister has ADD, my brother has Asperger's which was horribly mishandled by both our school and my parents (if we yell at him more, maybe he'll get it!) and I have OCD and recurring depression.

    I'm thinking of going back into therapy, and I can't wait for the bureaucratic bullshit I will have to contend with from my insurance company who will try every which way to deny I need therapy (she's on drugs! She's fine!) Meanwhile my brother has been stashed away in a home and as far as I know doesn't get counseling.

    The state of mental health care is frustrating in this country.

    • So you're basically normal.

      That's not snark. We're all pretty fucked up and we could all stand a few years of therapy. My story is not far off yours and it wasn't until I started acting out that I sought the help I needed.

      But this kid…someone must have seen something coming down the pipe who wasn't in denial about it and did nothing.

      • glasspusher

        Word, actor. We've all got our demons, but the worst one has got to be denial, about ourselves or those close to us. I'm not interested in being normal, but I do try to be relatively happy as much as I can. It's an ongoing process. Some days are better…I tell my kid this too, and let him know when he feels this way it's to be expected and we're here to help if we can.

  • BadKitty904

    There is absolutely nothing I can say to this. Other than I'm so very sorry, Miss Rebecca.

  • Having lost any facade of rationality in arguing for murderous weaponry in the hands of children, the right wing must now argue that children aren't really children.

    • sullivanst

      Oh they've long denied childhood, since being a child is a barrier to being sent to death row.

  • Sorry for your loss, and thanks for this series of posts. It may be a poop blog, but at least it's honest poop. And I agree with the above: Twitter is the Internet for Dummies.

    • Biel_ze_Bubba

      It's amazing how much stupid can be packed into 140 characters. Especially in the last few days, it seems that there might be a contest or something.

      • It's the rage they feel that they have to try and express in that short burst.

        I dunno…almost like a compulsion or obsession of some sort. An unhealthy fixation.

    • Lot_49

      Or maybe Twitter is balm for the swollen and enflamed egos which imagine that world wants to know every fucking little thing they're thinking or doing.

  • Oblios_Cap

    For the Greatest Nation Evah, we sure are comprised of a lot of hateful individuals with plenty of misogeny / xenophobia / gun lust, etc. going around. I think it's the bullshit narrative that we are all superior rugged individualists that drives a lot of it.

    • Terry

      I think it's just that the hateful individuals yell louder than the rest of us.

  • These "mental health" dipshit trolls are really afraid of looking in the mirror and taking a good long hard look at themselves.

    I can't even imagine what it was like to live with someone that mentally troubled. I'm still angry about putting up living with 4 miserable years of the tantrum throwing, delusional liar man child I once called a friend.

    • Lizzietish81

      There's an attitude in this country that mental illness is a personal failing, a sign of weakness and something that can be overcome with gumption and personal strength.

      That's how I felt for years, that admitting that I was depressed would be admitting that I was weak. If had been diagnosed with OCD earlier, so many things would have been different.

  • bureaucrap

    If guns don't kill people, and mentally ill people don't kill people, why are so many people still dying?

    • glasspusher

      This is the question that has no legitimate answer. Well done.

    • SnarkOff

      I blame Obama.

    • mbatch

      THIS!! Basically what we're hearing now is "we can't do anything because nothing we do will help". I don't/can't believe that. There were at least two more shooting incidents over the weekend, one at a theatre in San Antonio where I used to take my kids. For Christ's sake get the fucking guns under control!

      • sullivanst

        Not to mention the arrests Friday in Oklahoma and Saturday in Indiana of young men who were planning mass shootings in schools.

      • CindynEncinitas

        Somebody tried to shoot up Fashion Island. Fashion Island!

    • Spider-Jerk


      That's the only logical conclusion!

      • MosesInvests

        That, and no Jebus in the public schools.

  • Wow, Trix, I just finished the piece.

    Words…if I was there, I'd give you a hug (assuming you'd let me and you'd take off the spiked bustier for a moment, although I'd be fine with you wearing it.)

    • thatsitfortheother1

      To clarify, on or off you'd be OK with it?

      • Oh yes! I have plenty of triple antibiotic cream here.

        • glasspusher

          It would probably double as a lube?

          • And a prophylactic against mild STDs! Concept!

  • Lot_49

    The news is so depressing I just put on a CD of the Vince Guaraldi Trio called "Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus," which I owned on vinyl once years ago and just repurchased. It contains "Cast Your Fate to the Wind." Calm, meditative jazz piano is good, for this soul at least.

    • thatsitfortheother1

      Played his Charley Brown's Christmas just yesterday. Some wonderful, driving upright bass, piano and skins.

  • Goonemeritus

    One of the things I least admire about American culture is that we are unwilling to learn from countries that occasionally have some better Ideas. Mental health is one of the areas we just are really terrible at. We went from locking everyone up dangerous or not to pretending everyone is the same and mainstreaming people that need help. Our prisons our full of the people incapable of controlling their actions as are our shelters and streets.

    • thatsitfortheother1

      There are countries with sane gun ownership laws as well. And our wingnutz won't admit that they work somewhat better than every man for himself.

    • mbatch

      And the "no money for mental health care" idea hit at about the same time the NRA discovered that people would actually support getting rid of all gun regs. Gee, serendipity.

    • jadedalien

      Mental health is lacking in all countries – particularly those with public health care systems. It's underfunded and understaffed, with a high staff turnover. The lack of continuity in a patient's care can be just as detrimental.

  • Mojopo

    Belated condolences to you, your family and friends. My maternal great-grandmother died the same way as Jesse. Because of mental illness. I am so sad that anyone made you feel like you were not being helpful, after all you have seen – all you have endured.

    When I read "I Am Adam Lanza's Mother", I was stunned to read the awful things people were saying to this poor woman. Here she is, so alone with this problem, and she was being demonized and stigmatized for trying to share her POV. Are these people mentally ill themselves, that they have no empathy?

  • BaldarTFlagass

    My snark has experienced severe shrinkage over the last couple of days.

    • BadKitty904

      Truly. It's hard for me to comment with tears running down my face.

    • CindynEncinitas

      I'd be happy if I could just get a good night's sleep without dreaming of little kids.

      • jqheywood


  • Biel_ze_Bubba

    "He asserted the problem was the “changing narrative” in our culture."

    He's right — he just doesn't know that he's part of the problem.

  • cassamandra

    Oh honey. I, too, lost my brother to paranoid schizophrenia, though it took twenty years to take him down. He once broke into a house I shared with two friends, with an axe, and threatened to rape us all and then beat us to death. He stood over my mother with a knife in his hand because he thought she had given his dog away. He built barricades in the street quite regularly, because the Russians were coming. Otherwise, he was Buddha and Jesus, and he once told me that we were the secret children of Jack Kennedy. Also that he was pregnant with twins. Those calls came at four in the morning, usually. He could have killed, he didn't, he was violent, he suffered, he was crazy, all out crazy in the classical anybody-will-recognize-it-when-they-see-it sense of crazy, and you're right and they're wrong, and here's a hug.

    • commiegirl99

      Oh I am so sorry.

    • Mojopo

      Several members of my family have mental illness – from depression to addiction, agoraphobia to paranoia. Discussing publicly has been verboten, because they're ashamed of themselves and so are their spouses. All of them have access to outstanding health care, but they choose to isolate themselves and self-medicate.

      I have a sister that makes the 2 am, 4 am and 6 am calls. She says she's a UFO abductee, and she says all kinds of things happen that have never happened. A brother that has been institutionalized, another brother who hasn't been to visit since 1981. Another sister who is lost in a cloud of pills. If they had a contagious disease or if they were paraplegics, they wouldn't hesitate to seek treatment and they would get help from the community. But no one can put mental illness under a microscope, no one can bandage it, and so they live these awful lives day after day.

      Yes, Rebecca is right. Until we erase the stigmas and find about more about mental illness and disorders, and unless we stop being ashamed of it, nothing will change.

    • cassamandra

      I think there's a secret society of the siblings of the severely disturbed. We recognize each other usually within minutes. Same sense of humor, usually, rabid-through-tears-laughing-hysterically-in-the-kitchen-late-at-night kind of humor.

      • Geminisunmars

        We are helpless. We are resilient. We are comforters. We are terrified. We are brilliant. We are dumbstruck. We are resourceful. We are helpless.

      • jqheywood

        Also the children of the severely disturbed…

    • PugglesRule

      *hugs* Living with a person who has a serious mental illness, like your brother, means you can't even live day to day. You have to live minute to minute.

  • BigSkullF*ckingDog

    Twitter is ruining the world, 140 characters at a time.

    • Oblios_Cap

      Twats gotta tweet.

      • Twitter is for twits¹

        ¹Full disclosure, I'm on Twitter.

    • Lizzietish81

      Its not Twitter per se. The Internet Fucktard Theory remains proven.

      • glasspusher

        Just enables those only capable of a sound bite to have theirs…

    • Botlrokit

      There's a shitload more than 140 unsavory characters in this world.

  • Chichikovovich

    My heart goes out fo you for your loss, Rebecca.

  • Blueb4sinrise

    Boss ME! Boss ME!!!!

  • frostbitefalls

    Thanks for this. There is so much confusion about mental illness in our country, and there needs to be a better way.

    It's not evil to be mentally ill, it's not a death sentence, it's not uncommon, it's not impossible to deal with. We need to make a world where we all hold one another dear and keep one another safe.

  • Jesus, this Internet. What if everybody stopped oversharing, especially about minors in their care, and minded their own fucking business?

    • Botlrokit

      Gotta turn off the comments, man. Or maybe license them. Everything you say should have a DNA trail, so you can be held accountable for smartassery (which I will do) and libelous things (which, fuck it! I won't).

      "Says here you wanted a n***er off your teevee while a football game was on. I'd ask you to explain it during this interview, kid, but I don't want you in my office. Good-bye, son."

      • glasspusher

        Three fuckheads at the bar last night were saying "can't they at least put the game on in the corner of the screen?". I was this close to asking them if they had any kids, but judging from their looks, I'd say not…

        • Botlrokit

          Fuck football. There were angry letters to WREG in Memphis during a devastating tornado in 1999, that interrupted local coverage of a football game. If the game matters that goddamn much, buy a ticket, assholes.

          • glasspusher

            Srsly. If Bamz' speech had preƫmpted a Sox-Yankees game, that would have been A-OK with me.

    • As humans we share, now it's just easier to do so. Besides talking about things, identifying similarities, and finding common ground is basically the whole point of "over sharing."

      As for anonymous internet trolls…I've practically lived my life on the internet. This is probably my 9th user name, and the closest to actually indentifying me. There's nothing I'd say here or on my little internet diary that I wouldn't blurt out in real life. Hell I've avoided facebook since Friday because I know there would be some serious righteous tirades against a ton of fox news ditto heads I know in real life. My internet troll forms give me a way to vent without completely ruining holidays lol.

      The beauty about the internet is that you can ignore who you want when you wan, if you want.

  • Botlrokit

    My family demonstrates mental illness, though not to the point of anyone harming themselves or others, at least. They're just worshippers of a system that says "this world is the problem, and heaven is the solution."

    I guess we all have something in our lives that makes us deeply reflective. My sincerest condolences.

  • CrunchyKnee

    Yep. As a guy who lost a friend and the singer of his first punk band to a mental illness hanging, I agree with your post, Becca. I am sorry for your loss. It just amazes me that we as a nation are capable of such greatness even though many among us are too blinded by religious and political dumbass paranoia (both forms of mental illness) to look at things objectively and with an open mind.

  • Lizzietish81

    Yes we should go back to burying our problems deep within ourselves.

    • That's not what I'm saying. I'm saying that putting out your business far and wide to everyone on the Web just brings out the worst in thousands of anonymous people for whom it is easy to cause a lot of hurt and distress.

      • Lizzietish81

        Yes, Gods forbid that we try to get a message out there that may connect with a complete stranger who is going through the same thing.

        I sometimes worry that my excessive sharing about my childhood is nothing more than a bid for attention. But I've gotten a couple of replies thanking me for being so open because it helped other people who were in the same situation, and it helped them realize that they weren't alone.

        So I'll continue to overshare, because keeping quiet means the assholes win.

        • glasspusher

          I think Chet's saying this is a bit of a "gasoline on a fire" type of situation. If it were a back fire to stop the gun blaze, that would be OK with me.

        • pammci

          Only thing I want to say is that there is sort of a line between "oversharing" about your own childhood vs. someone else's. I mean, even if it's your kid, I don't think it's right to choose what goes on the internet about someone else's personal life. It's a tricky situation, I want parents to be able to talk openly about their problems, but this is honestly the sort of thing that can follow her son around for his entire life. Ideally we could talk honestly but protect other people's identities–or better yet, give more voice to people with mental illnesses, who can choose for themselves how much they're willing to share for all eternity.

      • gullywompr

        Make better choices?

    • stop sharing… vs. .. burying

      Or how about a balance, somewhere in between.
      The controversy as I understand it was between the mother of the troubled teen, and this other woman who began reading the mom's blog and quoting some passages she says concerned her about maintaining the privacy of the children whose more annoying habits and growing pains frustrate her efforts to parent effectively.

      I don't read blogs about parenting, ever, but am familiar enough from witnessing past confrontations it is a touchy, touchy subject b/c so many different people parent in vastly different ways / by different sets of rules.
      And if you're gonna participate in a forum such as online for topics of a very personal nature, including those that touch on tangential matters upon which far from 99% of human twatters agree? that is the risk you take that someone's gonna take some hits. Internet traffic doesn't strike me as that different from playing in regular traffic, unless you have some cutting-edge armor to wear~

  • snowpointsecret

    Let me say, as someone with bipolar disorder, I still don't get how anything Rebecca said could offend anyone. I'd rather have access to care when I need it than just ignore the problem and not talk about facts.

  • Terry

    Rebecca, I wish I could hug you, your Mom, and your little brother.

    "Maybe Liza Long, who wrote about her violent son, is a lying monster who only cares about pageviews. Or maybe she is at the end of her rope, and her “media tour” I’m seeing ripped apart online springs from actually trying to get help for families like hers. What the fuck do you know about it, you nasty fucking mean girls on Twitter?"

    Well put. I read Liza Long's essay and was really moved by it. I took it as an attempt by Long to describe what her life with her son is like and that she was motivate to try and explain what parents in her position (and Lonza's) are facing.

    I don't think any of us can really understand what life in those situations are really like. It's easy to spout off about what we're sure we would have done, but we really don' t know. My Mom has serious dementia and taking care of her has put me in situations I'd never have imagined, including having her repeatedly hitting me with closed fists in the head while I was holding her down so a nurse could close an artery. Everyone has an opinion, knows what THEY would do and exactly what should be done, but they really don't. You're doing the best you can for your loved one while the foundations of your world shifting under your feet. It sucks. Most of us, thankfully, don't have the whole world second guessing us.

    • Geminisunmars

      I wish I could hug you. My mother with dementia lived with me and my husband for the last several years of her life. Now caregiving for my 26 year older husband who, while physically debilitated maintains his sweet sanity, seems like a breeze. Well, not a breeze, really. But having seen a wonderful and brilliant woman turn into tantrum throwing child gives me some perspective.

      Seems to me we all live with on a sort of mental continuum, from innocence to violent dementia, from all sorts of causes. We need to find ways to support and help each other, and yet our society seems to promote fracturing and separating.

      I meant to write something comforting to you, and find I'm falling into a rant. I hope you are reachiing out and finding support. There is a website called "Lotsahelpinghands" that I have found helpful.

      • Terry

        The worst is when Mom thinks she's a little kid but discovers that her parents, uncle, and/or siblings all died long ago.

        • Geminisunmars

          Oh, that sounds heartbreaking. What was sad for me was when my mother, an opera singer and classical music lover, showed absolutely no response to or interest in music.

          Hugs, hugs, and more hugs. Take care take care take care of Yourself. Nobody knows until they have been there. Try to get abundant rest and good nutrition and time off. There were things that happened that I now regret, that I believe had I not been exhausted and ill would have been different.

          • Terry

            Don't regret things, you did the best you could.

  • I'm so sorry Rebecca. People are fucking stupid. Mental illness is real.

    At least your family tried to help your brother. When things started to manifest with my son (age 5), his father and his idiot gun nut mother told me to ignore it. It's no big deal and he'll just grow out of it eventually. Even though his family (and mine) has a long history of mental illness.

    It took two school lockdowns, a kid with a broken nose, and the superintendant wanting to send him to alternative school, isolated, as the only kindergartner to make his father wake up.

    Even in the office of the therapist, his father downplayed the seriousness of the situation.

    People consider heart attacks, cancer, and stroke dangerous. Why isn't something that effects our bodies most powerful organ, just no big deal?

    • MacRaith

      Because (and I've heard this way, way too many times) it's "all in your head". Which, to them, makes it not real. Which is complete bullshit. I mean, hell, the brain tumor that killed my grandmother was "all in her head", but nobody ever tried to suggest it wasn't real. Nobody would dare tell a blind person that their problem was "all in their eyes" and so they should just "get over it". But people have no problem saying these things to a mentally ill person.

      • Corrugated Palin

        In many ways, the single most pernicious of all modern myths is that of mind-body dualism. So long as people consider the fleshy brains to be distinct from the actual mind, they can convince themselves that such problems are "all in their head". They can convince themselves that the pills don't really do anything, that all social ills can be solved by spanking children more often, that there is absolutely no reason to believe that seeing a psychiatrist does anything other than drain your wallet.

        Short version: they don't consider it a big deal because they honestly believe that it isn't a medical matter.

      • Biff

        My girlfriend is blind. When it began (in her 40's) one of her specialists was convinced it was all in her head, even though there was zero response to light stimulation, and the Social Security Disability people took him at his word and denied her claim, which set back any chance for help by years…

    • CindynEncinitas

      My boyfriend's mother, when he was diagnosed with schizophrenia, declared that all he needed was fresh air and chamomile tea. Granted, she lived in Germany where fresh air is supposedly the cure for most of their ills, but I thought maybe Haldol and chamomile was a better way to go. But I eventually got to the end of my (22 year old) rope and sent him to his mama.

  • glasspusher

    So sorry about your brother, Editrix, and thank you for keeping your head despite your loss.

  • BigSkullF*ckingDog

    I have a very real that I have never spoken of to anyone, until now. I fear that someday my mentally ill brother will pull a murder/suicide on our family. I have no rational reason to fear this. But I fear it nonetheless.

    • Mojopo

      If you're in NY state, someone there can be hospitalized in lockdown for about 72 hours and then they send them home. Maybe with a few prescriptions. There might even be medications that would help, but they're expensive and some patients will absolutely resist taking them. There are implantable devices that deliver the meds, but no paranoid schizophrenic is exactly keen about that idea, either. The safety net is loaded with holes when it comes to violently ill people. I will throw any good vibes I have out there for you, to hope someone somehow can intervene before it's too late.

    • Sparky

      I'm right there with you BSFD. My post, below. I just wait. And wait. And this may sound horrible, but it isn't meant to, he is my brother, after all- I hope he takes his own life first, because then it will be the loss of one, not two family members. I don't think he'd survive a lucid period knowing he had hurt a family member Hang in there. Check the involuntary committal laws in your state, and encourage someone to call police if he becomes a danger to himself or someone else. It's really the only option you may have. (((hugs)))

  • I feel sad for everyone involved in the Connecticut tragedy (with the possible exception of the father, it is difficult for me to understand why he was not more involved).

    This country has no future if it lets anyone slip by into despair (or worse) without help. It's obvious that it's getting worse and related to the strangulation of services at all levels. This place is falling apart and I hope that people who think it's worth fighting to save are starting to get the message.

    And frankly the biggest criminals in this whole affair are the Grover Norquists of the world and his puppetmasters who are behind this both with respect to killing services – and using the dopey NRA/NASCAR/Honey BooBoo crowd to do their bidding.

    • Did you know that no one has stepped forward to claim either of the Lanza bodies?

    • frostbitefalls

      The father wasn't more involved because the mother had full physical and legal custody. Again, let's not go pointing fingers at people's parenting without knowing all the facts.

  • southernboyman

    A respectful and gentle Klingon salute to you and yours. Thank you for sharing your family story, we all have stories to tell–and we must tell them and regain our wholeness.

  • HRH_Maddie

    Thanks for sharing that. There are so many complex problems woven together that account for the problems we find ourselves in. Lack of insurance coverage leads to people going untreated, a healthy prison-industrial complex which makes locking up the mentally ill an easier option than treating them, and the gun lobby which lets guns fall easily into the hands of people too sick to have them. This can all be changed, but will it? I am doubtful.

  • asterixaverni

    Oh Rebecca (and everyone else with the same story), I am so sorry. My family and I have been living this nightmare for 30 years. At this point, I don't even know where my brother is. I miss that amazing, kind, loving boy. Even now, when we can find him, there are glimpses of that boy still lurking in the anger and fear in his eyes. What our family has been through just trying to get him help… we live in fear of him and of what he is capable of doing to others. He's ended up in prison, received no help, let out to nothing… the cycle is just endless. When I read Liza's piece through Gawker it was re-reading my teen years. I wish I could say her son will get help. If my brother and others are any indication, he won't. He'll die, alone, or he'll take others with him.

    There is no gun "control". That is an illusion. Outaw all weapons – period.
    There is no mental health "care" in this country – that's a lie. We must find a way to help these people. Prison and drugs are not the answer.

  • Beowoof

    In the black and white thinking of most Americans this is not even a little surprising. When you live in a country where the prospect of teaching critical thinking is being taken from the curriculum this will be the norm. Frank Zappa once said, " stupidity is replicating at an astonishing rate, most people look and say yes we know isn't it great"

    There is little compassion from these people. It is why they thought it was a good idea to close down the Psychiatric hospitals back in the early 80's while those on the far left cheered them on saying these people should determine their own lives. Now the streets are full of the homeless, those that were cleared from the hospitals where they were given at least some of the care they needed. We have a group of people in this country who thought Wall Street was a training film and not the admonition it was.

  • snowpointsecret

    I, for one, am liking the mixing in of serious posts along with the snark. Plenty of room for both around here, especially when something like this happens.

  • glasspusher

    It appears there is a sizable portion of our population who is afraid of looking themselves in the mirror, and, to reinforce to themselves that they don't need to, are trying to tell others that they don't need to look into the mirror or around them either…

  • Diana Edelman-Young

    Once again, a great post, Rebecca. I remember that day too. For some reason I felt drawn to go to your house that day. I knocked on your door, and your brother answered. I talked to him for a minute and then left. I wonder all the time why I was drawn there, but was not able to make any difference. You and your mom are incredibly strong. I know you will stay that way. BTW, my husband works with mentally ill inmates, many of whom get taken advantage of by other inmates. He does his best to keep them secure, but it’s a mess. Many of them, he says, have nobody and nowhere to go when they get out and really should be taken care of in an institution, but we don’t have them anymore. So sad.


  • Guppy

    Merry Christmas!

  • sullivanst

    The people of this nation appear to have a complete inability to comprehend the most basic statistics. "All terrorists are Muslim" (except for the ones that aren't, of course), becomes "all Muslims are terrorists". "Most criminals are black" (again, not true, by any measure, but still, arguendo) becomes "most blacks are criminals".

    These are really obvious fallacies, but are oft repeated. The same mistake is being made in response to Liza Long's post: "most mass shooters are mentally ill" is nowhere near to the same statement as "most mentally ill people are mass shooters", but she's being accused of saying the latter because she said the former.

    In the case of "Michael", given his age I'm thinking schizophrenia is an unlikely diagnosis, but am surprised nobody appears to have mentioned anything in the bipolar spectrum.

    I wonder how many of the people attacking Liza's post agree with its plea that we really need to address the problem of access to mental health care in this country (and the fact that access to mental health care is a major problem – "shove some random antipsychotics down his throat and throw him in jail if he doesn't get better" is both entirely ineffective and grotesquely inhuman an approach). I suspect most of them do, and aren't thinking about the fact that in attacking the messenger, they're obscuring the message.

    • HateMachine

      Another of my favorite oft-quoted post-shooting statistics is "all mass shooters play violent video games." While pretty true in recent years, you may as well say "all American males under the age of 30 play violent video games."

      correlation =/= causation

      • Well, sorry to harp on this, but the bestselling, blockbuster video game of the season is about running around in paramilitary gear killing everything in sight, and as soon as the Newtown thing happened, they seem to have pulled all their TV spots off the air. Correlation points out stuff you maybe need to look into.

        • Lizzietish81

          Please, if violent video games caused kids to go violent then my entire generation would be running around slaughtering people. We aren't.

          The game was pulled cause it would be a marketing disaster to release it the same week as a shooting. Better for sales to wait.

          • People assume that when you bring up this subject you're somehow advocating banning video games. I am not advocating banning video games. I am saying that first person shooter video games that involve killing everything in sight with hyper-realistic guns and paramilitary costuming might give a disturbed teenager or young adult very specific ideas about how to take out their frustrations in the real world, which they wouldn't have gotten so easily or experienced so directly while reading a book or watching a movie. Saying this is no different than saying that it's easier to kill a bunch of people with a gun than a knife. Maybe parents should take a closer look at what they allow their kids to "play" with. I think you're burying your head in the sand by just dismissing any discussion of this out of hand.

          • Lizzietish81

            "I'm not saying its aliens…but its totally aliens"

          • Thanks for the mature dialog.

          • Lizzietish81

            Well when all you have bullshit that's what you get.

          • Yes, Chet Kincaid, Bullshitter Troll, that is my reputation around this place from way back.

          • HateMachine

            Every major game retailer requires over-18 ID to purchase rated-M games (for mature, as the titles I assume you are citing are), and every game has its rating and a brief listing of potentially objectionable content listed right on the cover. The ratings agency in question errs on the side of caution ("cartoon violence" is a category). The game industry itself has a big, ongoing parental awareness ad push to make sure that parents check ratings before they buy.

            Oh, and parents can lock game consoles so that games above a certain rating can't be played without a password. I'd say that's probably as close to due diligence as it gets.

            We could let CNN or FOX do up a big campaign that continues the scare narrative of "vidya gaems warp chilluns' minds!" That probably wouldn't make you or anyone else (except for CNN and FOX) happy, though. At least, I don't think so. It is the only campaign you're likely to get out of them on 'parental responsibility' angle.

            In the meantime, the sort of reasonable campaign I assume you'd like is going on right now, and has been for years. Didn't you notice? Or did that sand get in the way?

          • No I didn't. I don't play console games (I'm 52 and just not interested) and I don't have kids. So thanks for the information.

          • HateMachine

            Fair enough. And for what it's worth, I wish I hadn't let myself tick up towards a little vitriol there at the end. Can't take it back now that you've replied, though.

            Part of the problem is that this particular line of argument is one that gamers have been hearing since, well, Columbine. And while games in general or the FPS genre certainly isn't above criticism (lord knows the enthusiast press, which I dabble in, does it quite a bit), the "murder [Oh, so THAT's why this keeps getting auto-deleted, thesaurus time!] impetus" line of critique isn't a very strong one.

            I'd certainly be open to talking about what FPS games' popularity (to the point that publishers focus their resources on the genre) says about the American id, for example. Or that FPS games tend toward the shallow side. But I've seen enough uninformed criticism (see also: the facebook outrage over Mass Effect 3 aka Star Trek Simulator because the shooter's brother had liked the game) to start reacting harshly to it.

            Carry on, man. I know you're legit.

          • Honestly, I suspect that the fact the mother knew the kid had mental health issues and kept multiple assault weapons at home (and probably trained him to use them) is probably a much bigger piece of the equation. I know that the pro-gun propaganda outfit works very hard at countering the statistics about how guns in the home actually end up getting used, but you actually have to work at it to use just the video game to kill someone, and there's still a rather big gulf between video games and the real thing, in terms of knowing how to actually handle, aim, shoot, and reload a weapon.

            I think there's a better case to be made for the idea that these sorts of movies and video games are a symptom of a gun-obsessed culture, and that, especially insofar as that "realism" is a product of their role as military propaganda vehicles, they help perpetuate the cultural dysfunction that actually is at heart there.

          • Thank you!

          • Wile E. Quixote

            Keep fucking that strawman.

        • snowpointsecret

          To be honest, all they were doing by taking that off for a bit is avoiding a PR disaster, and all that game does to kids is cause them to scream at the TV.

          If you need evidence, he's upstairs doing it right now.

          • HateMachine

            Actually, I'm all in favor of kids under 18 being banned from playing Call of Duty, if only so that people over 25 with jobs will have a chance to get some rounds in without some 15-year-old named xxWeedLord420xx destroying them while screaming racial/ethnic slurs an octave too high.

          • snowpointsecret

            I wish that would work… The person I'm talking about is 18 already though, and he's plenty immature. They'll still be there messing with you, just with a lower voice.

          • Lizzietish81

            Hah! A few years ago I read this op-ed piece from this guy who was going on about how kids were screwed and violent because his nephew was playing Grand Theft Auto and talking about killing a hooker.

            I wrote a letter to the paper asking why he was letting his clearly underage child play a game that is clearly not for kids.

          • That is my point!

          • Lizzietish81

            No, you're trying to connect violent behavior with playing video games, something that has no evidence.

          • Jesus fucking Christ, why won't you let me agree with you on at least something in this thread?

          • Lizzietish81

            We're not agreeing, you're trying to back peddle into saying that parents should monitor what their kids play, which is reasonable.

            Except that you started this discussion by trying to draw a correlation between violence and video games.

            Nothing more pathetic than someone who tries to backpeddle instead of just admitting he was wrong.

        • HateMachine

          That's certainly true. But statistics also provides us with a means to weed out meaningless correlation. The best way to do that is to look at which variables are correlated with each other, and eliminating all but one of them. I'd say sub-thirty age, maleness, and video game use are all strongly correlated with each other. They're all also correlated with walking, talking, breathing, and shitting.

          Which one do you think we need to look at? Which one of these do you think is going to explain away most of the error in this graph?
          (hint: none of them, also what Lizzietish said)

        • Look into, sure.

          Many serial killers wear black.

          So do many hipsters and artsy types.

          Is there even a reason to look into that correlation?

          Video games have been examined. We can discard them as anything beyond an incidental factor, perhaps merely making it slightly easier to depersonalize the victims.

        • sullivanst

          Goddamn it, apparently there's a new auto-delete word that I don't know of. Here's attempt #3.

          The original FPS was released in 1992, and such games plus their close third-person cousins have over the last 20 years become steadily more widely played to the point of ubiquity.

          The conjecture that violent video games causes violent crime would predict rising violent crime over the last 20 years. That period has instead seen a steady decline. I'm certainly not going to make the argument that the decline is because of the spread of FPS and TPS games, but the argument that they cause violent crime faces a near-insurmountable cliff.

        • FrankFuror

          Thanks for your concern but there's significant amount of research going on into this very topic right now. As in most behavioral studies, people find what they set out to find, so the results are a mixed bag. If you're interested in correlation, I think you're ducking a major issue that Lizzietish81 is throwing out there, namely that her generation is markedly less violent than yours- the homicide rate is half what it was in 1980. If video games encourage murder, they must not be very effective.

    • UnholyMoses

      Great point on teh difference between schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder.

      In men, bi-polar disorder often manifests itself with hallucinations, voices, paranoia, etc. — all signs of schizo, but often misdiagnosed as such.

      Of course, it don't mean dick if they don't have insurance, or insurance that covers not just a few visits to a therapist, but a lifetime of care covering therapists, occupational therapy if needed, medication, etc.

      • sullivanst

        The violent outbursts seem to me, obviously in total Tom Delay mode here, like they might be the kind of thing that are sometimes associated with a mixed state, and it's only a small stretch to believe that the mother's description that "When he’s in a good mood, he will gladly bend your ear on subjects ranging from Greek mythology to the differences between Einsteinian and Newtonian physics to Doctor Who" might possibly indicate hypomania.

  • MacRaith

    Argh. OK, I'm going to give this a shot and see if I can make sense. There are different kinds and degrees of mental illness, just as there are different kinds and degrees of physical illness. If you said someone with the common cold was "physically ill", you'd be correct. If you said someone with cancer was "physically ill", you'd also be correct. And nobody would accuse you of equating the common cold with cancer.

    I suffer from chronic depression, so I fall into the category of "mentally ill". And yes, the guy who went on the shooting spree is, in my opinion, also mentally ill. I'm quite comfortable saying that, and I don't think anyone else who says it is necessarily saying I'm the same as him. Maybe because I'm cursed with a sense of perspective.

    • I would add that there's a difference between "overtreating" and "undertreating" various illnesses – mental and otherwise. With all the drugs and confusion over how serious various conditions are, it can be nigh-impossible to do what's best.

    • Beowoof

      I am one of those chronic depressives. I can see why my father and all my uncles were alcoholics. Hiding from the pain they had with no understanding of why they have it.

  • Jus_Wonderin

    Not to pile on, but my family was impacted by suicide. My dad decided to take his life when I was 12. This event is something for those that remain…never quite get over.

    • Beowoof

      Which is why instead of taking that step, I went to the Dr. It would have ended how I feel most of the time, but would have been devastating to my kids. And I promised myself to never hurt them as much as I was as a kid.

      • tabouley

        And we are glad you did. Hugs to you across the intenetz, if that's not too mushy.

  • MissNancyPriss


  • A few years ago I read Ian Hackers "Mad Travellers." The gist is that mental illness finds in the culture the way to express itself. Thus we get the "fugue state" in 19th century france, and multiple personality disorder in late 20th century America. "What makes it possible, in a particular time and place, for this to be a way to be mad?"

    It seems our gun culture has made mass murder the 21st century way to be mad.

    A good summary of Hacking's view

    • frostbitefalls

      Thanks for posting that link. I remember hearing about Hacking's work a long time ago, and am glad to read more about it. Another thing you might be interested in reading is this

      Mental illness is a really complicated thing, and it is surely socially constructed in some measure.

  • kittensdontlie

    I have known too many people that have taken their own life…far too many.

  • Pithaughn

    My sister in law spent every cent she had and then some to get mental health care for her son. Of course she has been bankrupted and cannot afford a refrigerator now, but at least the banks and government have got a plan to get their coin back. Oh and the kid, at least he does not threaten to kill her anymore. Oh and the father, that rat fuck is gigolo in Scottsdale, aka Tennis Pro.

  • HateMachine

    I had a bout with clinical depression that cost me my first try at college (and as it was a full ride, it cost me a shit-ton of cash as well). The response to me from medical professionals was to pass me some Zoloft and tell me everything was going to be fine as soon as I popped it.

    I can tell you right now that medication and well-wishing was absolutely not what I needed. I got a fair bit worse before I ever got better. And while I was never a hazard to others (and never suicidal) I was certainly a hazard to anything I ever hoped to do or accomplish. Like, say, leaving my room. But I am much better now (no thanks to pills), and moving along at a decent clip toward an MBA and some money in the bank.

    You're absolutely right that mental illnesses are not created equal, and that there's a world of difference between paranoid/non schizophrenia, bipolar, depression, etc and the Mass Shooter syndrome. But all of them have one thing in problem: none of them are being handled properly in this country, and our society feels the consequences of that every. single. day.

    If gun control remains out of reach, I'd settle for a big mental health omnibus reform bill.

  • TootsStansbury

    What an awful story. I'm so sorry. Thank you though for sharing it with us.

  • Jus_Wonderin

    I want to ask a question. I am serious. For those that have a faith, do you think the shooter will go to "a heaven"? My personal belief is that all spirits/souls are pure. It is only environment (being surrouned by an imperfect body and world) that causes evil to reveal itself.

    Now, slam me if you will, but I am wanting to poise the question above.

    • Y'know, for my part, I tend to agree with you. This isn't a long-term spree that saw millions terrorized and hundreds or thousands killed — making it true evil — and while I do not defend what Lanza did or that he did it, the fact that he killed himself says a lot to his own shame and guilt over his actions.

      it's really up to Jesus or whomever does the judging in your world.

    • Lizzietish81

      I prefer the Hindu aspect of hell. You have to do something really, really terrible to go there, but its a temporary thing and then you start again at the bottom of the karmic ladder.

    • I have belief, but it mainly applies to what goes on here / doing things for their own sake — I'm tackling your question just long enough to say I probably *can't* answer it per se, because I don't believe our 'linear' or 'before/after' or "action –>> consequence" gridwork in this life necessarily blends on likewise into the next.
      There is some math geek in me that senses infinity is a reality so I don't think we're *all done* upon dying. And the flawed vessel motif you describe, j_w, reaches me but limitedly. Too often (ironically, as a result of our flawed containment and brain-configuring) when we adopt the dual nature POV, within most of those permutations, it still is too easy to shed accountability for one's actions ("I know it was wrong — but it was the devil made me do it, my shadow side!") etc.
      Heaven/hell <=> state of mind rather than geographic or physical condition is where I prefer to start exploring in terms of repercussions for past deeds.

    • joeyblau

      atheist here… he no longer exists.. same as the people he killed…

      all gone except in memories and monuments.

    • gullywompr

      Also an atheist, but I think Adam Lanza is a perpetrator of gun violence, and also a victim. Whether he can be considered to be divinely forgiven is something I can't really engage in. What's more interesting to me is – can we living humans forgive him? I'll offer no suggestions in this particular instance at this particular time, but a friend of mine often advises that we should forgive others, for our OWN good.

    • mormos

      atheist, so…

      Personally I don't believe in "good" & "evil", only in morality or immorality, which I define as being either creative or destructive. So the moral act is the act of creation whereas the immoral act is the act of destruction. similarly, the purpose of law is to regulate interactions between individuals in order to acheive a positive outcome, ie. the creative act. Maybe that is a juvenille view.

      As a person who struggles with depression, and has for ten years, I don't see suicide as inherently wrong. Suicide is what happens when a person's problems exceeds their mechanisms for coping with those problems, nothing more.

      Obviously what Lanza did was horrific, it is deplorable that he took all those people with him on his way out, but it is clear to me he was suffering, and I do feel partly responsible for what happened. I feel that we failed him as a society – and by extension all those children – by not seeing his pain and anger and treating it. I do not know the circumstances surrounding his life and I could be very wrong; and again, this may be a juvenille view.

  • TavariousChinaSmith

    Ok we're bad at gun control and bad at treating mental health, but at least we're good at bullying. USA! USA!, etc.

    • YasserArraFeck

      As I always say – "Play to your strengths"

  • Mojopo

    Since Friday, I can think of three people I know who have come out and said they have a family member who is sick and capable of murder or suicide. What Rebecca has been through is not uncommon by any means! It's sad, and it makes me so angry. In these instances, the state should be able to intervene. Even a conservative friend of mine, who hates the government, agrees that the state should be helping her paranoid schizophrenic family member. The family has tried, and he is a great person when he's medicated properly, but people with mental illness need the money it takes for maintenance medications and a program that literally makes sure they take it. I hate to be the bearer of Brave New World messaging, but people need help. The government should be doing so much more. If we don't acknowledge the problem and make changes, more people will die.

  • MozakiBlocks

    I'm beginning to wonder if we can get God to go back on that whole promise "to never flood the earth again" thingy.

  • Suicide is often the result of less florid disorders than the illness that affected Rebecca's brother–in my family it is depression but whatever the cause it crushes survivors. The idea that a person you loved killed himself rather than face the agony of living another day is something that just doesn't go away. Ever.

  • taylormattd

    Don't listen to any of those cunts on twitter. Love you.

  • MosesInvests

    First, Rebecca, I'm sorry that you and your family had to go through that, and that your brother didn't get the help that he needed. As someone who a), comes from a family of mental health practioners and b), has mentally ill family members, I can relate on a whole lot of levels.

    I did see *one* valid criticism of that article today-that by posting it under her real name, instead of a pseudonym, she made "Michael" all too identifiable, and therefore subject to stigma or possibly worse ("There's the crazy potential mass murderer-let's get him before he gets us!). However, since she is obviously at or near the end of her rope, I'm inclined to cut her major amounts of slack.

    The unavailability of mental health care in this country is just as scandalous as the availability of powerful weaponry.

    • Mojopo

      Pretend for a minute that she was talking about her son with leukemia. Or her son with stage 4 diabetes. Should she be ashamed to call her son by name if he suffered from either of those afflictions?

      • MosesInvests

        No, of course not. My cousin calls her 5 year old with severe Type I diabetes by name on FB all the time. But unfortunately, there *is* a stigma around mental illness, and in the wake of a horror like Friday's there is a possibility that the ignorant among us might go looking to pre-emptively attack a child who might be perceived as a potential threat. No one is going to attack my cousin's child for having diabetes.

        I'm mainly outraged that this woman is at her wit's end trying to deal with her child's mental illness in this savage, barbaric society.

        • Mojopo

          I'm totally on-board with you. Same page.

  • smitallica

    What makes me a rage bear on this whole thing is the same people that are braying "We don't have a gun problem, we have a mental health problem!" are all vehemently working to cut any and all spending on anything even remotely health related, because socialism. Makes me want to beat the fuck out of them, with votes.

  • PugglesRule

    Dear Rebecca,
    Thank you for having the grace and strength to share this with us. My only child, GTT, is not only gay and transgender (neither of which is a mental illness in itself, IMO), but also has continuing mental health problems since before he was 12 years old. We had hoped that his suicidal ideation, gestures and occasional serious attempts (including jumping off the roof of our house, which miraculously left him only with one ankle slightly broken and the other sprained) would end once he resolved his gender issues. Unfortunately he continues to have sporadic depths of suicidal despair, including a momentary compulsion (his term) to kill himself 7 weeks ago by swallowing 35 grams of Tylenol. Fortunately he immediately decided he wanted to live and called the crisis line, who called 911, so he was in the E.R. within an hour of his attempt, but still ended up in the pediatric ICU (he's 16) for 36 hours while they pumped him full of N-acetylcysteine (the antidote to acetaminophen) and then observed him. (… more…)

    • tabouley

      Hugs to you puggles, and sending you good thoughts, you are not alone.

  • PugglesRule

    And yet none of these was as scary as the time when GTT was 13 and locked himself in our bathroom with a butcher knife, threatening to kill himself. Having four local cops in our hallway with their guns drawn and pointed at the bathroom door, telling GTT to drop the knife and leave the room, was probably the low point of my life so far.

    I agree with MacRaith that there are degrees and varieties of mental illness. Some, like my son, are really just a danger to themselves, and then intermittently (though we never know when that might be). Some people, like Adam Lanza, have to be homicidal and kill lots of people before anyone decides they might be a danger to others.

    • joeyblau

      "Having four local cops in our hallway with their guns drawn and pointed at the bathroom door, telling GTT to drop the knife and leave the room"

      I hate when they threaten to shoot suicidal people…

  • LibrarianX

    The need for a national discussion is clear – and paramount, but how does this happen when too many are interested only in making noise?

  • Tommmcatt_Again

    I'd like to remind this brave Mom that when people start hating on you, it usually means your're doing something right. I read that whoe piece- it was facenating, totally appropriate, and does nothing to demonize the mentally ill.

  • after having read a both the article in question, as well as a good portion of the twitter mess, i do not quite understand many of those self-proclaimed advocates of the mentally ill. what part of "ill" don't they understand? and how do they not see that a mentally ill person is, almost by definition, not a happy person? okay, story time: my younger brother is a paranoid schizophrenic. he has not been violent, that i know of, but he does provoke violence from others because he scares the crap out of people. it's only a matter of time before *something* happens. he is in and out of treatment, but there's really nothing anyone can do until he poses a direct danger to himself or to others. so we wait. until that happens. meanwhile, i have frequent nightmares and take antidepressants. my mother has developed germophobia. and my little brother is quite literally scared out of his mind. (and this is in europe, so it's not just this country. luckily, he has no access to guns, at least.)

  • Thanks for sharing Becca.

    / hug

  • mormos

    sigh, all squares are rectangles not all rectangles are squares. simply analogy for the logically impaired.

    • Geminisunmars

      But what if they are rhomboids?

      • mormos

        then we're fucked

  • MinAgain

    I can only say my heart goes out to you and to the woman you mentioned. Plus, I give you props for sharing what must still be a very painful family story.

  • glesslib

    Empathy seems to be going the way of first class mail. Lots of people who can say nasty, awful, thoughtless things online have taken over communications in this country. People who really are contending with a mentally ill child or adult are pretty much alone in the struggle. This country really still stigmatized mental illness. The menally ill are still expected to snap out of it or get their lives together, or whatever simple one line retort the uninvolved can come up with. I read a couple of the retorts to this woman's article that were totally clueless. Some wanted to know where the father was in all this….probably the same place Adam's father is….gone from a terrible situation.

    My advice to all the crappy people who made nasty comments about the article….Snap Out of It. Get YOUR Act Together. And, possliby, see if you can buy a heart somewhere.

    • what a great way to put it. thanks.

  • Beowoof

    Rebecca, I am so sorry to hear your story. Ignore the bastards on twitter. They have lost any sense of humanity in their fear which is ginned up by rich guys with an agenda.

  • DahBoner

    How about FREE Optional* Mentalhealth Care Golf Course Calendars for everyone?

    *≠ Manditory for those who claim not to need it

  • Biff


  • scionkirk

    As someone with chronic depression (ie, 'mentally ill'), all I can say is that its an agonizing situation. I've said things to my 'talking doctor' that has gotten phone calls made, things checked out. If a 'normal' person said them no one would think a thing. I can get all huffy about it or think that people are just concerned about me and my family. People can get all upset about the 'mentally ill' being stigmatized and treated like second class citizens, or they can get all upset about people who need help not being able to get that help. Someone with a bad knee gets a crutch, maybe some people just need a phone call and asked 'how are you doing?'

  • Dudleydidwrong

    Thank you, Rebecca, for your work as part of Wonkette and specifically for sharing part of yourself at this time of grief and puzzlement. Self-disclosure is one avenue of both needed catharsis and of creating helpful dialogue and learning. Unfortunately on the Internet it also opens one up to the idiots who know little save their own views and hatred.

    You go girl!

  • loganbacon

    I suffer from chronic depression and anxiety. I have been suicidal, though have never considered harming anyone else. Yet my family has no understanding why after so many years of therapy and medication I am not "cured" and has commented that by seeking the help I do I am not "standing on my own two feet." And these are the people who, in theory, love me. People who have not lived with mental illness do not understand it. I read Liza's essay and my heart went out to her. My husband and I are lawyers, and we have had cases where we fought the discharge of patients such as your brother – and in one such case, even though we were successful during one event, years later that same person killed him/herself. It broke our hearts.
    We DO need to address the problem of mental illness in this country, just as we need to address the problem of gun ownership. And in both cases, it is a complex answer. While I have no desire ever to own a firearm, my history should not bar me from owning one. I have never exhibited the slightest tendency towards violence. But people who have a history of violence are another story. They deserve care, just as the public deserves protection.

  • mavenmaven

    The teabaggers believe that we don't need any of these things, rather the solution is the following:
    Had George Zimmerman been at the front door instead of some mechanical card reader those children would still be alive.

    • Wile E. Quixote

      Had George Zimmerman been at the front door instead of some mechanical card reader those children would still be alive.

      And if Adam Lanza had been black, because Zimmerman doesn't shoot white guys.

    • sullivanst

      OMG, I thought this was snark but sadly no.

  • Doc Fox

    When the Right-wing [don’t-spend-a-dime-and-fGs-don’t-tax anyone-with-money] folks finally peter out or grow to a minor % of Congress, we need Medicare for everyone that includes mental health covered as fully as appendicitis.

  • dennis1943

    Two subjects of discussion…………….the adults in the room should monopolize the discussions……..that precludes most politicians…….

  • Madf00t

    I love you and I don't even know you.

    Posted for my mother-in-law, whom I never met, and who tried and tried and failed and failed to get help for her own bipolar disorder. Dead since 2002.

  • Honestly, as an autist who plays lots of violent video games and is also an adamant pacifist who loathes America's gun culture, I do tend to get more than a bit alarmed when someone points to one element that is common enough among the non-violent among us- mental health issues, watching movies and video games, etc, and suggests that that was the main catalyst, and by extension, that all individuals under that category are suspect.

    While reading that piece, I did look back on my childhood, and see somethingof my own mother in those words, I nevertheless see how it could be seen as feeding into some unfortunate narratives that were really just waiting to emerge. I don't think that criticism is entirely unwarranted.

    That being said, the inadequacy of mental health services, alongside a culture awash with and glorifying of military weapons (of which violent media are equally a symptom and a perpetuation mechanism, but hardly a primary cause) certainly did and do contribute to this massacre and those like it. But most of all, beyond our culture, and inadequate access to mental health care by those who really do need it, is the fact that our society is awash in guns, and particularly military weapons. It really does strain credibility to say that this guy could have just as easily stabbed 30 people to death, and it strains credibility even more to say that more guns in schools would have mitigated this tragedy rather than spawned many more in addition.

    I'm intimately aware that the label of "mentally ill" is a thorny one; I dislike guns, and think they should be very hard to obtain in general, but I hardly think my aspergers or depression should be especially disqualifying conditions within that context, absent a history of arrest or hospitalization- the truth is, there is a very fine line between taking appropriate care and out right discrimination or worse.

    • TavariousChinaSmith

      Agreed. The vast majority of violent video game players do not themselves commit violent acts. Neither do the vast majority of mentally ill people or the vast majority of gun owners.

      But it is guns and guns alone of those three that facilitate murder on this scale. I think controlling firearms is where we should be focussing our unwavering attention in the aftermath of this tragedy. Appropriate treatment for mental illness is much more complicated, nuanced, and difficult than simply banning the kinds of weapons that kill like this.

    • joeyblau

      I play a bit of shooters.. I think COD2 as german was my high point.. but I have COD4 as well.. and of course MOHAA was the best..

      but COD shooters get more head shots in real life.. and are better at clearing a room.. so more people get hurt.

    • gullywompr

      One point to make – any influence that a computer-generated gun may have had on Adam Lanza most assuredly paled in significance to the real guns that he had access to, and was taught how to actually use.

      He didn't need to pretend, he had the real thing.

  • DeLand_DeLakes

    I'm so sorry for the heartbreak you and your family suffer, Rebecca, and sorrier still that you all had to go it alone.

  • lucentgem13

    People who have no comprehension of a subject will sure as hell wag about it a lot. Those who don't understand mental illness in any form tend to be clueless. No one wants to go back to the days where people were in institutions that treated them like things, or experiments or even ignored them. What we need however, are secure locations people with severe mental illness can go and be treated like the humans they are. Humans whose brain just isn't the same for whatever reason.

    I have experienced death via suicide from friends who were not mentally well. It hurts and it sucks because you can't do anything. They didn't harm others. But, I have been inside institutions and I have been physically threatened by people who did.

    There is a lot of bi-polar disorder in my family and my life and most of those folks do not harm others. I also know folks who would, if they didn't have enough self control to stop it, generally however they are more a threat to theirselves. That's saying a lot, btw, having any self control in that situation cannot be easy! At least, for those people there are medications that can help. Anyone with an actual psychosis however, that's much more difficult to diagnose and medicate, if it can be medicated at all. Not everyone can be 'fixed' and medication is not the end all be all. It merely allows some folks to function within what we consider normal.

    I feel for you, and I feel for Liza. I read her account yesterday and both made me tear up. You are both incredibly strong women who have dealt with the hell storm life has delivered.

    The good thing is, the people who are acting like this is a witch hunt don't matter in your life in the grand scheme. What does matter is that they will make this a witch hunt and like anything else that should be a rational thought process it won't be for those people. Because they don't understand. Or they ignore reality. Sad really.

  • sullivanst

    You still need to explain how the murder rate and violent crime rate have been falling as the rate of playing violent games has increased, or as your proposition would have it, despite the rate of those games being played increasing.

    • That was not my proposition. Am I not allowed to state a critique of the quality of our culture? It seems like that is 95% of what we do on Wonkette. It's OK to critique every other part of our gun infatuation except FPS video games?

      • Lizzietish81

        Because your critique is based on nothing more than conjecture and is a popular battle cry of the conservative side.

        And who says you're not allowed, no one's stopping you from saying anything, are you saying we're not allowed to point out that you're wrong?

      • sullivanst

        When I re-read your two direct responses to HateMachine, I still don't believe that my interpretation (that you intended to imply that there is a correlation between video games and real-world violence) is an unfair conclusion to draw from the words on the page. What I'm trying to point out, though, is that the correlation is negative – the growth in these games is associated with less real-world violence, statistically.

        You're perfectly at liberty to state a critique of the quality of our culture, I'm engaging with your critique. I did not intend to be disagreeable about it, I have enormous respect for the contributions you make here.

  • jadedalien

    Thank you. I thought the same thing when I read Sarah Kendzior's assessment. We're just supposed to suffer in silence. Well, no … first I thought she'd bloody well hate me too, because I regularly wanted to throttle my kids (still do and they're adults – well, mostly … the bipolar one still acts like he's 2), often forced them to go places they didn't want (Great Auntie Annie's place was a torture chamber after all), and, in the case of my younger son, had the police on speed-dial from the time he was 11. I still do, and he's now 21 – and too old for me to try and force in to treatment or on to medication.

    It's quite clear that even during Sarah's disgust at Liza "piggy-backing off the media hype" or whatever the hell she's calling it, she's doing exactly the same thing. I certainly hope you don't post the joint statement she's requesting. And I hope Liza regrets pandering to her.

  • knuck1es

    I saw those tweets last night, was very disturbing to see reactions to the woman's blog. I feel extra shitty now, because you are totally right and I should have spoken up as well. People are assholes, including me, apparently.

  • ttommyunger

    Again, words fucking fail…..

  • CindynEncinitas

    The boyfriend I followed to UCI came down with schizophrenia and called me one night rambling about how his parents were getting back together. I knew pretty quickly that he was not the person I had seen the weekend before, and I called campus police. They found him and turned him over to me and we went to the counseling center. The guy there didn't know his ass from third base but he did agree to admit him into the inpatient facility in Dana Point. I witnessed the utterly inadequate mechanism we have for dealing with people who can't always act with self-agency. The drugs are terrible, the mental health system wants to get rid of you as soon as possible, and society wants to pretend you don't exist. If you don't have a family member willing to fight like a tiger for you, you're fucked. And even if you do, you're pretty much fucked and that person is exhausted. I am so sorry you experienced this, Rebecca. It's a pain that never goes away, but when you share it, know that your burden is at least partially borne by the people who care about you, and I'm one of them. Peace.

  • dacoles

    I have a son who is also mentally ill. At various times he's been diagnosed as ADD, ADHD, schizophrenic, bipolar, and schizo-affective. He's also threatened to "kill everyone and burn the house down". I'm happy to report that on his medications he is living rather normally on his own at 29 years old but I fear the day I might hear otherwise.
    Thank you for having the courage to speak up! This article meant more to me than you know.

  • Biff

    My takeaway from this is that today, we are all batshit crazy, or at least know someone who is. My heart breaks for you, dear Editrix…

  • LibertyLover

    I have no snark for 20 dead kindergarteners or their teachers that tried in vain to protect them. I have no snark for the mentally ill or their families that suffer in silence because people who do not believe in science place a stigma on the brain chemicals or body chemicals that have gone wrong in the brain (while at the same time no one questions the body that turns against itself and creates a cancer).

    The big sister of a childhood friend used to wander around the town with a parasol in the town where I grew up, the brother of the wife of the co-worker of my spouse shot up a post office and his co-workers many years ago, and closer to home, my own father spent time in a mental institution for paranoia and I have a brother the lives alone and borders on being a candidate for the hoarding reality show. I do not think that you have to think very hard to realize that someone you know has also been touched by mental illness.

    I have only sadness for the families who have lost loved ones to gun violence and will not be able to hold them and love them for Christmas this year and any other year in the future.

    And I have sadness that all too often there is an intersection of mental illness and gun violence and the all too easy access of guns to people that should not have access to guns.

    I am saddest of all that we cannot talk about this like people that should be able to talk about it should.

    • PugglesRule

      It's that Amurcan frontier mentality. We can do this on our own; we don't need no stinkin' help. And anyone who asks for help is a weakling.


    • joeyblau

      you're making me cry… it is so sad…

  • HateMachine

    Honestly? Yes, a bit harder to figure out than you're giving the problem credit for.

  • Gutterstar69

    So, based on discussions I overheard and TV talk I witnessed over the last two days: There are people who are criminal or evil. They are not mentally ill. They are different from everyone else out there. There are no acceptable measures that can be passed to restrict the purchase of weaponry that do not place unreasonable restrictions on the rights of citizens to arm themselves. It's important that citizens are armed so they can defend themselves against the occasional criminal they encounter, and potentially so they can unite with other armed citizens in case we need to fight a war against a despotic government using handguns, hunting rifles, and obsolescent automatic weapons. Besides, most people are AND ALWAYS WILL BE sane, sober, responsible, rational people who will never make a decision in anger or act aggressively without provocation. For some reason, probably moral decay among the majority of Americans, there are an increasing number of evil criminals out there, and unfortunately, all that can be done about it is to arm yourself and hope that if something bad happens you'll be able to successfully defend yourself.

  • Another Boomer Blog

    We must continue to discuss mental health issues, the vulnerability of the mentally ill, the volatility of many of the mentally ill, the loss of life – mostly due to suicide – caused by mental illness. I have long talked about it – talked about the necessity for a one payer 100% covered quality system of mental health care in America. If this can't get it started I have no idea what will.

  • CalamityJames

    I promise (noidont) not to hump your leg if you let me hug you.

  • brditsme

    I'm really sorry for your loss.

  • robertyknwt

    I've been saying for decades that we need to multiply our resources for identifying, destigmatizing, and treating mental illness ten- or even a hundred-fold. I know I, with my fairly-run-of-the-mill chronic depression and addiction problems, often have trouble getting the help I need, and I know there are millions of others out there in the same boat. The vast majority of those millions won't gun down a couple of dozen schoolchildren, but certainly their lives will be greatly improved by access to better and more mental health resources.

    But, at the same time, many violent criminals, be they mass murderers, muggers, rapists, you name it, also suffer from mental illness. Poor anger management, poor impulse management, paranoia, addiction, and many other issues arise with violent criminals. How much better off would both they and the rest of us be if we were better able to identify and treat such individuals, preferably in their youth?

  • PugglesRule

    The drugs are terrible, the mental health system wants to get rid of you as soon as possible, and society wants to pretend you don't exist. If you don't have a family member willing to fight like a tiger for you, you're fucked. And even if you do, you're pretty much fucked and that person is exhausted.

    I have been my son's tiger for 4 1/2 years. I had 18 months of relief when he was in a local program to keep kids out of residential treatment; IMO his former case manager is a saint. Now I know the MH "system" better but I live in terror that at some point my kid will need some kind of care that I simply do not know how to access.

  • pammci

    Well, OK, is it fair to say that I had some issues and negative gut reactions to the I Am Adam Lanza's mother post too, but wouldn't necessarily say she shouldn't have written it or that it's "garbage"?

    As someone who does live with mental illness, I felt for the author, but I also felt very much for her young son who may yet grow up ok and who has now had his personal troubles pasted far and wide across the internet. I wish she had found some way to discuss her difficulties and protect the identity of her son more.

    I also just have a lot of problems with the way mentally healthy people talk about us crazies in general. OK, the conversation must be had, but so rarely does it really include the voices of the mentally ill. And I'm sorry, but most people who don't live with it don't really know what the hell they're talking about.

    So while Long's post was fine, I guess, as long as it's part of a much larger dialogue – usually you just see this one-sided and potentially problematic thing getting all sorts of glib praise for a while, and then the interest wanes and no one hears from the kid who actually has the illness and it's frustrating.

    Still, she's right in that we need a system for dealing with the problem that isn't jail. Ultimately, even if I felt angry reading it sometimes just like I've felt angry reading lots of things about mental health, it's probably better on balance that people are reading it than not.

    • joeyblau

      "I also just have a lot of problems with the way mentally healthy people talk about us crazies in general"

      "err what? . . No I wasn't saying anything… Must have been all in your head!"


      • pammci


  • My stepdaughter is bipolar. Her illness is not nearly as bad as that of some, and she did a successful stint in the Army and has a 100% disability and apparently, a livable income for life, as well as free medical care. My other two stepchildren are more distant and I don't know them very well (after 24 years of being married to their father!)–they are functional, sort of, but they're not normal. Mr. Goon is a retired professor and spends most of his time reading–always nonfiction, usually science stuff. I asked him a few weeks ago why mental illness is so common in our species. Why? None of his children have children, which is a good thing. Many people who are mentally ill show symptoms in adolescence and do not become parents (although of course many do). But how can the DNA for mental illnesses have not been weeded to the point of being fairly rare by now? It would seem that they are seriously detrimental to us as a species.

    Maybe this seems like a useless sidetrack, but I really want to know. Everyone seems to have relatives with mental disabilities. We all know people from high school or college who seemed to have enormous potential, but now they are unable to support or help themselves, or they are walking wounded, AS LONG AS they take their meds and never miss a day, or they are dead because of their illness. Why is this? Why so many?

    • sullivanst

      Many people who are mentally ill show symptoms in adolescence and do not become parents (although of course many do). But how can the DNA for mental illnesses have not been weeded to the point of being fairly rare by now? It would seem that they are seriously detrimental to us as a species.

      Schizophrenia typically doesn't manifest itself until young adulthood, and much like the "gene for breast cancer", the genetics of mental disorders are complicated and express themselves as increased risk not certainty of disease. Are you going to tell a healthy woman she cannot have children because her brother and uncle are schizophrenic? Of course not. But there's a good chance she has the genes for increased risk of it.

      Basically, we're victims of our own success, genetically – we have the luxury to choose not to be eugenicists. Mental disorders do not threaten our survival as a species.

      • No no no. I must have expressed myself poorly. I'm not suggesting telling anyone whether they can have children, or eugenics. It's sort of the reverse–if we DID practice eugenics in this realm, there would be nobody left in next to no time. And considering what a struggle it is for families to cope, and society to cope, and assuming that this has been going on for ten or fifteen thousand years–I simply don't understand how we have. Sure it's complicated and it's not off-on single-gene stuff for the most part. But it's just incredible what so many of us have to do to try to make do with those near us who have to have help.

        It just seems like for most of those 15,000 years we did not have the luxury, or whatever it is you mean, to shoulder this kind of societal challenge.

        • sullivanst

          Hence my "Of course not" ;)

          Mental disorders have little effect on reproductive capacity, and often do not manifest until after a few years of fertility, so whatever effect they have on attractiveness isn't always important. But more significantly, even if noone who later went on to develop an illness ever reproduced, it would not eliminate the genes because it's perfectly possible to carry them and remain asymptomatic. And even if you eliminated the genes you wouldn't eliminate the disease, because those with the best genes still have some susceptibility.

          But most importantly, the fact that we have brains with about a million times the information content of our genes, and a social order more complex still, means that our DNA is very far from determinative of our lives.

        • pammci

          I think one thing that can be hard to grasp from the outside is that there's such diversity among people labeled 'mentally ill,' almost to the point that in most instances I wonder how useful the term even is.

          Genetics aside, I think there have just been constantly shifting definitions and approaches to the problem throughout history. Maybe there are more instances of mental illness as the world becomes increasingly crowded and complex, maybe we recognize it more now and diagnose it more, or whatever – but nothing is static in our approach. For many mental illnesses, we have only had names for them and research into them for a relatively short time.

          I think your questions is interesting but also impossible to really answer – because even just in the US and just in past generation or two, the approach has shifted so greatly. Try to imagine how many different sets of definitions of mental illness and solutions to its problems have arisen over so much time and space, in nomadic cultures and ones where extended families stay put for generations, and so forth.

    • pammci

      I think the genetic picture is a little too complicated in this case. And really, evolution doesn't weed out anything that's detrimental, anyway.

      That said, I'm sort of struggling for how to put this, but… my parents are not mentally ill. I am. I don't know how that works, scientifically, but it's just true. That said, they did a pretty lousy job raising me. Meanwhile, I don't know if my own illness would be passed to my offspring if I did have any, but I do think I'd be a better parent than my own parents were, just because of who I am and what my temperament and personality are. I'm great with children, tremendously empathetic, and both more caring and more decisive than either of my parents were.

      Obviously, I'm not talking about having some violent and dangerous mental health problem. But even so, you can see how sticky this line of questioning might be. Not all mental illness is passed down along clean and obvious genetic lines, and not all mental illness would render someone a less fit parent than a person without that illness. I don't even think you can draw those lines on a disease-by-disease basis, at least not for the most part.

    • joeyblau

      The mind is a complicated piece of equipment.. In the old days there was not that much stimulus. or need to really figure things out..

      you had animals.. and weather.. and then horses and cows which were really cool.. but took a lot of work to herd… but people thought about the sky and about eating..

      now.. we have massive amounts of stimuli and options and things.. and news and noise.. I think some brains just can't take it.. never could but now it is exposed..

      so that we see it.. also in the olden days I think people died faster or were killed at the moment they started acting out .

  • pammci

    Also, just to add… don't think Long's post did it but your post just made me think of it: as far as 'which is more dehumanizing,' calling someone who would do this mentally ill or evil –

    I'm continually struck by how often the two are conflated in coverage about this story and others like it. Many sound like they're talking out of both sides of their mouth at the same time, trying to do the "responsible" thing by bringing up the need for a conversation about mental health but then in nearly the same breath talking about "evil."

    Sorry, but the concept of "Evil" has little to no utility in conversations about real world issues. So yes, on that front, much better that we talk about mental illness even if we do so imperfectly.

  • Rebecca, my heart goes out to you and to Liza Long and everyone else with a loved one suffering from mental illness. As someone who still suffers from major depression, I know how debilitating it can be (and I'm one of the functional ones). I first started to realize I had a problem while in college (not because it developed then, but because I really had a chance to compare notes with other young people outside of my own family) and went to one of my school's counselors, whose answer was to suggest I withdraw — they certainly didn't want their school's already notorious reputation for academic stress besmirched by another suicide, you see.

    Fortunately I was determined to do something, and with the help of some people who cared about me, was able to call places and bug doctors and get nowhere over and over and over again until I finally found a place that did counseling on a sliding scale so that I could afford it most of the time, even at minimum wage. These services were available, but not easy to get, and they took more persistence and determination than most people with mental illness working by themselves to find would have.

    Since then I've known several people with profoundly more debilitating illness than I have, many of them unable or unwilling to get help until they were homeless and/or dangerous. Ms. Long's story is not unique and she's not a bad parent — she's a regular person dealing with a situation that's all too common and the assholes on twitter should look at themselves before they condemn others.

  • anniegetyerfun

    Rebecca, you teach me much. Thank you.

  • Tundra Grifter


    Thank you!

    I was furious this morning when I watched CBS discuss this tragedy with the crawl "Raising A Killer." Nobody raises a killer. Good parents have terrible children and awful parents have great kids.

    When you know what it is like to have your own child come after you, when you've called 911 and had the cops come and seen your child taken away in an ambulence, when you've had Child Protective Services interview you and you're at risk of your entire family breaking up, then you've got standing to talk about it.

    Until then, shut up.

    There is a huge gap in our safety net. There are remarkably few available resources for parents who want to keep their children but can't cope on their own. Sure, parents can turn the kids over to the foster child system. But between the two extremes they are previous few choices.

    Far too few choices, if we really want to solve this huge problem. Fortunately, President Obama's Affordable Health Care Act could be a big first step. And I sincerely hope our First Lady adopts this issue and runs with it.

    • joeyblau

      "then you've got standing to talk about it.

      Until then, shut up. "

      no I don't think so.. it just means don't be a dick.. This sounds too much like the "if you have never been in the military you can't say what should be done" argument.

      • Tundra Grifter

        So you think all those folks dogging Rebecca were correct?

        VP Biden spoke to military families who'd lost loved ones. He said you don't know what it is like until you've been there yourself. I agree with him.

        If you are so fortunate that you've never had to go through it, count your blessings.

        But don't for a moment think you know what others have had to deal with. You don't.

        • joeyblau

          no reason for you to have seen my earlier post:

          "wow… fucking A. we don't help people with mental illness.. we make money off of them, we laugh at them and we try to stay away from them..

          My brother killed himself with a plastic bag and the gas hose from the dryer… "

          • Tundra Grifter

            I'm very sorry to read about your brother and your loss.

            I wouldn't presume to claim to know what that is like – because I've been fortunate enough to not experience it myself.

            Just like I wasn't in the army – they invited me to that dance, but I didn't go. I took my student deferments and then the lottery and that was that. I don't demean those who went – and unlike (r)Money I don't feel like I didn't go to Viet Nam. I didn't go.

            My sincere best wishes to you and your family!

          • Joey_Blau

            it's ok.. I just meant that just because you didn't go to Vietnam, that does not mean you can never ever have an opinion on, say, what we are doing in AfPac.

            Likewise, a person does not have to experience Mental Illness firsthand to have a reasoned and meaningful point of view on it.

  • Pat_Pending

    We who must continue keeping on, salute you.

  • decentcitizen

    Becca, this a start. The problem persists because people don't talk about it. They don't talk about it because of the stigma of mental illness, and the stigma continues because people don't talk about it. Our culture is really good at producing addicts and mentally ill people, and you're right -it is a family problem. The caretakers suffer just as the mentally ill person suffers. Until we make access to mental health services as easy as access to assault weapons, we will have more of these stories. Hugs to you, and don't mind the butt hurt Twatters – they think they're fighting a different battle than you are.

  • barto

    So sad, Rebecca. Another reason why I work towards getting universal health care coverage which treats mental illness on a parity with all illness. My paternal grandmother took her life when my dad was 20ish, I think it had a deep effect on him although he rarely spoke of it except to say "one day she was there and the next she wasn't". Yikes…

  • Close_Read

    Rebecca, I haven't even read through all the comments yet, but a huge, huge hug to you, girl. I am so sorry for your loss. I have a mentally ill family member, too. History of violence, all the usual. The zero help that we got from the system when we needed it the most, plus the utter dickishness of pompous people sharing their useless judgments, it all still sticks deeply in my craw.

    I want to say something more about mental illness, this tragedy, time is now for change, etc., but I just can't right now.

    I'm not the best snarker on Wonkette, but believe me, reading these posts every day makes me laugh and encourages me that there's a still a legion of caring, reality-based, and intelligent citizens in our country. Screw the screaming tea baggers. We will prevail.

    Carry on dear Editrix.

  • widestanceromance

    I will never forget the day I left my self-medicating schizophrenic ex. There had been several 911 calls to the house that day, and when I left him in a drunken pass-out (I finally felt safe enough to leave, since I had been essentially held captive all day), I had about $10 on me and a small parrot on my shoulder, only to find police surrounding the house, guns drawn. I somewhat feared I might be shot or, what seemed worse at the time, that my parrot would be shot or fly off in a panic, but I wanted the ex to get shot. He had been deteriorating rapidly but refused help. I finally realized, after hearing him say he wanted to kill me too many times, that in all likelihood, only one of us was going to live much longer, and I was even more terrified that I had begun to plot his death in cold methodical ways, not in anger at all. There seemed no other way to end everyone's suffering, his included. I had 3 options: stay and be killed, stay and kill, or run. He was originally from CT, so this story has brought back lots of memories. I have no idea where or how he is years later, suspect he is dead or locked up. I waited to hear the name of the shooter, because maybe it was him. If it had been him, I would finally know for sure that he would never find and kill me, so I was weirdly saddened that the shooter was not him.

    I have no idea what this comment is about or why I needed to share, just that I know first-hand how it feels to pity, hate, fear and feel sorrow for those with severe mental illness. Part of them wants to hurt us, part of them wants to hurt themselves to spare those who love them, but in the end, there is nothing to do but feel bad until they can be helped.

  • joeyblau

    wow… fucking A. we don't help people with mental illness.. we make money off of them, we laugh at them and we try to stay away from them..

    My brother killed himself with a plastic bag and the gas hose from the dryer…

  • Wile E. Quixote

    Hanna Rosin wrote an especially cunty, even for someone who can't get a writing job anywhere but Slate, response to Long's about this over on XX at Slate. I don't know which was dumber, Rosin's piece or the piece by Robert VanBruggener over at NRO arguing that the AR-15 wasn't particularly lethal and shouldn't be banned.

  • redarmyzombie

    I'm so sorry Becca. I lost my uncle in much the same way a few years back. For him, he was in an especially vulnerable point of his life when he made that decision. It's something that still brings a lot of hurt and regret to my family, especially now that someone very close to us is beginning to lapse into what we think may be dementia.

    You know, I think I had something more profound to say, but reading the experiences of everyone else has left me at a loss as how to respond. I guess, like everyone else, I just wanted to say I feel for you.

  • Whatever

    I'm sorry.

  • vtxmcrider

    Rebecca, thank you for sharing the intensely personal tragedy within your family. I have offered a moment of silence to Jesse. Your story overflows with your undying love for him, which is the highest tribute.

  • FrankFuror

    Rebecca, that was a powerful thing to tell, and I hope that it giving it to us helps others as much as it must have hurt to tell it.

    I wish this is what people would talk about, not running off to fight the same stalemated battle over guns. This is an issue I feel we could reach across the aisle and come to some solution, not even the republicans benefit from the disaster of a system we have now. As much as some of the other commenters want to place blame on the other side, some of the most unhelpful people in this debate have been people on our own side, the ones who don't want to see these poor children "labeled" or "stigmatized", never mind whether they get help or not.

    • pammci

      Where have people said they think it would be better if the kid didn't get help lest he be labeled?

      • FrankFuror

        Not here, thankfully. Go over to Jezebel, you can find them there. They are all up in arms about stigma. Whether someone can get help treating their kid, not so much.

        • FrankFuror

          On second thought, don't go over to Jezebel. That is always a better idea.

          • pammci

            Yeah, I think I'll stay away. That's going way too far. I think people have a right to their privacy and we should be careful about what we share (particularly about other people) online, but that goes beyond the issue of a stigma. Ultimately I do think individuals should be encouraged to speak up more about their own experiences, because that's probably the only way out of mental illness being this stigmatized Something that few people understand.

            I flat out told my parents I needed help when I was a kid, and I still didn't get it, because they, in turns, worried how it would look if people knew, didn't really believe mental health problems were a real thing, and worried that a bad doctor could do more harm than good. Even if some of those concerns may possibly be valid, they shouldn't trump the need to seek help. (I am glad my mom never took to the internet with all the gory details, though.)

  • CivicHoliday

    We spend more on drugs and counseling to control my husband's depression and ADD than we do providing care for both of our children, buying groceries, and paying for gas and electricity, combined. Insurance covers next to nothing. I am so thankful that we can afford to get him the help he needs, and can't imagine the struggles of families who have to either go without treatment, or let everything else in their lives slide to afford the help their loved one(s) need.

  • Close_Read

    For anyone who is struggling with mentally ill family members, if you haven't checked out the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, their Web site has a very active forum community:

    The site won't lead you to the secret link on excellent government programs for the mentally ill, because those don't exist – but then you already knew that! But I have found their community honest and supportive no matter what my question about my own family member. Good folks there.

    Something else I thought of, is if Sen. Feinstein is going to introduce legislation, to voice support, here's the link to her contact page,

  • I am so, so, sorry….

  • feminazipenishrinker

    Nothing but love, Rebecca.

  • obfuscator2

    i'm torn between mourning for your loss and thanking you for being courageous enough to share this with us.

  • spareme

    Stay strong Rebecca, you are not alone.

  • oh baby girl thank you for this. i am so sorry for all this pain.

    i have to say reading all these heartrending wonkette stories makes me realize how very lucky i am. my developmentally disabled brother is a saint – the farthest thing from violent or destructive (well, ok, chocolate chip cookies…) there is in life.

    i thought it was weird growing up different. i thought my little brother was a pain in the ass (he was). now i know he also taught me to fight like a hellcat to defend what i love and i wouldn't change that for the world.

    and kick the

  • also can't we just fucking forget twitter?

  • muser3

    I read this story and cried. Rebecca, I am so sorry for your loss.

    My 33 year old son has been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. I have been through countless trips to the emergency room because he self-mutilates, not to mention the suicide attempts. It took almost 15 years to diagnose him correctly because he was in and out of facilities/programs that decided his was a behavior problem, not a mental illness.

    Even with therapy and medication he is at risk to harm himself or others and I pray nothing will happen. He has been lucky so far.

    Thank you for a thoughful article.

  • Sparky

    I am so very sorry. Your story brought tears to my eyes for so many reasons- your pain & helplessness, and that of the Lanzas, the lost children and their families, and everyone in emotional pain. My father was an alcoholic who we all believe was an undiagnosed (self-medicating) bipolar. One brother of mine, only a few years older than I, is following the same path. There have been psychotic episodes where he has threatened my mother; completely delusional and dangerous ( I am only told after the fact). I do feel your pain. I feel like I am constantly waiting for THE call. Only I can never predict whether it will be my mother or the state cops calling with the inevitable news. This country's mental health system is an abomination. I am so sorry for you. *tears coming again*

  • chuckbutcher

    Just before his 21st birthday my son hung himself in jail. He had something broken inside him that no one could diagnose. He just could not stay on the right side of things. He knew where it was and could do well for awhile and then… well – things would go south. I won't go into the note he left, the gist of it was that he just couldn't take it anymore and was tired of hurting us.

    In a black irony, Jon Swift's last post is in reference to it. I let his decision be, it was his to make – but my heart was broken and though I cope, things like this bring the pain back and my one tough mother fucker eyes get all wet. A lot of things got broken by this act, our marriage, my wife, a lot of things. And no, nobody could figure it out as he slid out of hope into a sheet noose. I understand the author in ways that I will always wish I didn't.

  • chrisahickey

    You're not wrong. We need to talk about it now. We need to talk about mental health care in this country, and how much it sucks. I work every day to keep my 18 year old, diagnosed with Schizophrenia at age 11, alive and out of trouble. It's a full time job, because the schools don't care, insurance companies give you the run around, there aren't enough doctors or treatment options, and everyone treats you like the worst parent in the world if you dare say your kid takes psych meds.

    Keep talking. Ask Congress why, two years after passage of the Mental Health Parity Act, there still aren't ANY REGULATIONS around how it is to be executed and enforced.

    Ask why there are 180,000 licensed gun shops in the US, but only 7,000 licensed child psychiatrists.

    Ask why school districts HIDE RESOURCES available – and required by Federal IDEA law – from parents so they don't have to pay for it – and hide them until the parents resort to homeschooling or lawsuits.

    Ask why a relative can't get a person with mental illness treatment after he/she turns 18 UNTIL he/she is a threat to him/herself or others.

    Ask why there are nearly 50% less beds in psychiatric hospitals and mental health centers than there were in 2007.

    Keep asking. Tell the naysayers to shut up. Because mental health care in this country IS PART OF THE PROBLEM.

Previous articleAll Your Christmas Shopping In One Place, Unless You Have To Buy Stuff For Your Stupid Kids
Next articleIn Bout Of Not-Affirmative Action, GOP To Promote Party’s Lone Remaining Black Representative