How can we possibly keep these tragic events from happening again?
Remove the stigmas of being diagnosed with conditions, be they mental health issues or be they learning issues or other brain processing issues. And technically speaking, even though autism spectrum disorder is in the DSM, it is not a mental illness. It is a condition that has to do with the brain and that is the reason psychologists test and diagnose it. Psyche means brain.
Work to preserve the Affordable Care Act which is working to address the accessibility of mental health care. Matter if fact, one of the ten essential health benefits as set in place by the ACA is mental health related and covers behavioral health. People without insurance to cover this area are less likely to seek help before something happens. And of the ACA were repealed, then access is no longer there if people lose their insurance again.
Remove guns from the hands of the general public. Yes, you read that correctly. The second amendment right to bear arms was referring to the right to bear arms as a militia to protect the country. At the time it was written, America was a country at war on its own soil. Now since part of this recent killing involved stabbing, there is nothing we can do to change access to knives. Anyone could grab a kitchen knife and do that.
Some of the worst comments I have seen on articles today:
We need to put everyone with that diagnosis on a watch list.
We need to lock all people with that condition up because they are all potential killers.
Okay, here is the flaw to this logic and reasoning:
What if I were to say that we should put all blonde people under 5 foot 7 inches on a watch list?
Or, what if I said we should lock up all white men who wear black suits because they could be potential killers?
Faulty logic, right? And unfair judgment?
Well, it is no different than what these people have reasoned out! Matter of fact, it the exact same logic!
Essentially, ANY person could have done what he did. It is just pure coincidence that he also happens to have had Asperger's AND OTHER MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES.
How can we as a society address this?
I already laid out some ways, but I would further add that regardless of the age of the individual, we need to strengthen the ability of concerned individuals who bring up their fears about an individual to authorities to communicate this and these concerns need to be taken seriously. Case in point, an Alabama man was arrested on charges of reckless endangerment after posting videos he took while driving of him basically threatening bicyclists as he passed them after he became enraged at having to slow down until he could safely pass them. He was not arrested so much for the threats as he was for the act of videoing while driving. But threats are not protected speech. They have to be taken seriously. This guy made videos stating what his intended actions were going to be regaridng this case. Did authorities not do enough? Did YouTube not do enough? Why were flags not raised when he posted the video of his intent to hurt people?
The professionals he was seeing decided that there was nothing they could do even though family expressed concerns. This evidences that the mental health care system is very broken. They could have done more. Why didn't they?
All I could say before was NOT AGAIN. Why? Because it seems that lately when one of these killings takes place, people immediately judge people who have autism or Asperger's (which is no longer a diagnosis). Just because some killers have had autism, that does not mean that all killers have autism. And just because some people with autism went in mass killings that does not mean that all people with autism will. Matter of fact, quite the opposite. Studies and research have shown time and again that individuals on the spectrum are more likely to be the victims than the perpetrator.
The Autism Society of America is a great resource for more information related to this post. And right now, I trust them the most. So I encourage all those reading to refer to them. I posted the link to their statement earlier today in my previous post.
Saying anything otherwise is just hurting the autism community as we fight not only to remove stigmas and barriers but fight for acceptance in our communities. We are people who want jobs, education, health care, recreation, and churches too. Spreading this misinformation is hurting our chances. So please do research before you spread the misinformation further.
Also, please note that any media organization or journalist spreading such misinformation is acting irresponsibly and unethically as the first rules of journalism is to report the truth and do no harm.