My Perspective

So…last week I received a phone call telling me that there was an active shooter on the USC campus in Columbia. Since both of my sons are students at USC – one is at the medical school and the other is on the main campus – my heart dropped. I immediately called my younger son and his phone went to voicemail. I thought I was going to be sick. Fortunately, he quickly sent me a text message that simply said “I’m good…I’m just in class.” Oh, thank you God. I then called my older son who answered with “I’m safe. Mom, remember I’m not at the main campus.” Yes, I knew that, but I had to make sure he was okay. I then sent a text message to his girlfriend and she said she had just left campus a few minutes before the incident. Okay, okay, they’re all good.

Then I started wondering where the shooter was and would my family remain safe. Thanks to technology, I was able to get a live feed from and was able to find out that law enforcement felt like the situation was under control. I also received another text message from my younger son telling me all that he knew about the situation but that the entire campus was on lockdown and he wasn’t able to leave his classroom. Breathe and pray. Breathe and pray. I felt so helpless. Finally I received a phone call from my younger son telling me that the lockdown was over and that they were told it was a murder/suicide situation. He also told me that he was in the building just across the street from the incident, but that he didn’t tell me earlier so that I wouldn’t worry too much. When I received this phone call, my first thought was how thankful I was that everyone was okay. Thank you so much, God, that my family is okay. I am so very blessed.

Then I remembered that everyone wasn’t okay – that two people died. A professor was killed by his angry, depressed ex-wife. She came to campus with the sole intention of killing her ex-husband. She very evidently had serious mental issues. Her neighbors and her ex-husband knew that she was suffering from depression. Was she on medication? Was she seeing a counselor? Was she getting help? I have no idea, but I very strongly believe that many of the vindictive killings that we learn about could be prevented if mental issues were recognized and treated – even to the point of hospitalization. Years ago, depressed individuals received treatment and situations such as what is described above were few and far between. Perhaps it’s time to re-think the way mental illness is treated. It’s very obvious that the current way of treating the problem isn’t working. How many more people have to die before things change?

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