I just got off the phone with my sister who called my family in tears. It's been a while since I ranted against the system and I suppose it doesn't fit anywhere under advertising or career advice but I thought it was important to share. Her friend was just shot and killed by a member of a squat team in Seattle. He had a gun and was engaged in a long standoff with police from the balcony of his apartment. A life lost, is a tragedy indeed but the circumstances go way beyond that simple truth. My sister called me a few months ago to tell me about her friend. He had been diagnosed with leukemia and started exhibiting signs of mental illness. Despite the urging of his friends, he chose to ignore his illness, and to the chagrin of his friends and family, went on an uncontrolled rant, even running to Canada. According to my sister, his group of friends and family did everything in their power to get him involuntarily committed, adement that he was a harm to himself or others. But based on the laws that govern our mental healthcare system, he could not be admitted unless their was undeniable proof that their suspicions were correct. Realizing this, his friends even went as far as warning the police and trying to prevent him from obtaining a gun. But their months of effort only led to exactly what everyone had predicted. He became such a threat to society that the police deemed it necessary to take him down. And the threat came from him owning a gun.
There have been countless tragedies related to gun violence and mental illness. Each time, the country mourns, thinking this is the worse thing that could have happened, only to be outdone by a far greater tragedy. So what did we lose in this? We lost a life. The squat team shooter has blood on his/her hands and the knowledge that they killed someone who didn't need to die. The victim's friends will have an image that may haunt them for the rest of their lives. Parents have lost a son. We lost a potential productive member of society who could have been rehabilitated to be the person that so many people loved him to be. But instead, those around him have paid the emotional toll of the system's failure.
On the flip side, what would it have taken if this had gone the way it should have? A few thousands of dollars in medical bills. The paperwork required by the hospital to admit him. The support of his friends and family to help him on his journey back to health. A lifetime of medication or coping mechanisms to prevent future breakout that he would have paid for if he became a productive member of society once again. The loss of a gun maker's profit.
There are many issues in our society that are too complicated to simplify. This is not one of them.