January 2, 2013

Another View: Mental health, culture should be part of response to Newtown


Your superb editorial

"Newtown's call to action on gun control"

(Dec. 18) inspired me to give further thought to this serious problem of gun control, brought into harsh light in Newtown.

The paper's "three-step plan" is sound in structure and content but may take time to implement with all the political rhetoric and flack to first tackle.

However, if I had my druthers, this new plan for gun control would begin with the issue of mental health, because I believe it is here where we can begin to put a stop to these deranged and misguided unfortunates from releasing their angst and confusion on innocent children and unsuspecting citizens.

Mental health needs a new approach, one that addresses new issues that children interface with today, that their parents did not.

To wit: violent demonstrations in films, on the Internet and, of course, "action" video games, along with commercials that show excessive "action" to communicate their message.

And we would be foolish to think that a lot of Newtown's tragedy is not going to seep through to their vulnerable and impressionable minds through the vast media and ambient conversations.

It is my belief that if an organization can be formed to update the mental health agenda -- one headed by nongovernment leadership and one, please, that excludes the unnecessary interference of "special interest" groups -- we will be able to move ahead rapidly to tackle the problem of gun control and save precious lives.

Parents, school administrators and teachers need to be educated about potential signs and problems in children at an early age if we want to avoid further catastrophes.

Evidence proves that a new and serious problem is facing us and it requires immediate action.

Frank E. Reilly is a resident of Portland.

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