Lafayette shooting shows the dangers of untreated mental illness
Last week, John Houser shot up a Lafayette, Louisiana movie theater killing two people and injuring nine, making this the 204th mass shooting to occur in the United States this year.
Many Americans have used this string of shootings to call for increased or decreased gun laws. It’s possible that changing these laws could have some impact, but mass shootings aren’t likely to end until we’ve tackled the mental health problem in the United States.
Houser suffered from bipolar disorder and was committed into a mental health facility against his will in 2008. This treatment came too late because he had lived most of his life with untreated mental illness problems.
“Obviously, this man has some mental health issues, and obviously they have gone untreated, and a tragedy has arisen out of it,” said Candace Rader, the lawyer that represented Houser’s wife when she attempted to take out a protective order against her husband in 2008.
Houser is far from being the only one suffering from untreated mental health issues. According to the Child Mind Institute, over 17 million kids in the United States suffer from mental illness, and many go without treatment.
Child Mind Institute President Harold Koplewicz believes there is a huge link between untreated mental illness and criminal behavior:
“What is most troubling is that less than 35 percent of these kids ever get help. So it’s not a surprise that 70 percent of kids in the juvenile justice system have a diagnosable psychiatric illness.”
What does untreated mental illness in children have to do with a grown man shooting 11 innocent people? If more kids were given treatment at a young age, it would decrease the number of adults with untreated mental health problems. It can also be more difficult to get adults into treatment, as shown in the case of Houser.
This shooting may have been avoided if Houser was helped earlier in life, but that time has passed. There are millions of kids that need treatment or some could face the same fate as Houser.
What do you think about the current treatment of mental illness in America? Is is good enough as it currently is? Leave a comment or talk to me on Twitter @Karbowski_Devon.