The nation asks once again why, why would a young
person that is intelligent, talented, successful, with the
world open to them have the challenges of possible
The past several years there is a growing concern for
and need to focus on mental illness prevention and
treatment. The educational systems of this nation are
seen as a macrocosm of the communities that
are in constant flux. Trying to address and find solutions
to challenges that at one time were family secrets, kept
locked away in mental institutions, the prison systems of
their communities, mental basements of the mind of
family members, verbal deniability because when
suspicions are raised about potential mental implications
families shutdown and hide.
There are seemingly fewer places to hide from potential
mental breakdowns that our young people are experiencing.
Once thought of as a safe haven where violence would
never happen our educational institutions are now
patrolled by armed security, there are military like drills that
law enforcement agencies are practicing for potential
threats and students are considering carrying weapons
for protection and pro-action not just reaction.
The recent events at Florida State University in Tallahassee
have brought the realities of mental instability and the
potential of violence home for me with my son attending
Florida State in a Master’s degree program. Working to
solidify his future with a quality education. The furthest
thing from my mind as I’m sure with thousands of other
parents is the safety of our children on a university campus
and even still in a library. An institution of higher education
and the advancement of knowledge and intellectualism.
Realities hit home fast and the realization that your child
could be hurt or killed is not a after-thought or a late night
nightmare, but a reality early in the morning. As the news
unfolded I’m sure other parents prayed for the safety of
their children and called, texted or used some other forms
of communication to contact their children. Mines was asleep
in his bed when he answered his cell phone, oblivious to the
events that happened in the early morning.
Relieved to hear his words that he was OK and even asking what
happened, I hesitated because as a parent I did not want him to
know that I was scared, parents try to show a foundation of
strength, but at times we feel the helplessness of allowing our
children to grow-up in a world that as we age is not as safe as
we thought it was when we were our children’s ages.
As the events leading up to the tragic shooting unfold we will learn
many things about the young person from their family history,
academic and athletic achievements, travels, loves, challenges
and other personal information.
Then diving into their mental states or the events that contributed
to their actions. We must also with sympathy and empathy look at
the challenges that this person had to address and deal with. Was
there support or no support, where family and friend available, what
was their medical history, etc.
The warning signs have been placed before us, but how many are
looking, listening and taking action. Football players with their
concussion issues, military men and women with PTSD, children
that threaten to kill their teachers and children that have
murdered their parents.These are the events in our newspapers,
television news headlines, Social Media events and discussions
at the water cooler and dinner tables.
There needs to be action not just reaction, prison cells are not the
answer, there needs to be more discussion, dialogue, and
engagement. Time to stop being silent about mental challenges
that are giving rise to suicides like Robin Williams and the increase
in deaths and injury.
Get involved and volunteer.
Jacksonville Mental Health in the African American Community
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Attend meetings this November 22nd 2014
623 Beechwood Street, Jacksonville, FL 32209 at 10:00am