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For 20 years I represented people charged with every crime conceivable, from petty theft to murder. I visited jails and prisons in TN, AZ, OK, CA, etc.  You will not be surprised to know that after the "mainstreaming" efforts that closed mental health facilities decades ago, the primary "treatment" facility for chronically mentally ill adults is jail.

But this diary is not about me (though I may write about my experiences later). It is about the cry or scream for help from a mother who lives, in fear, with a mentally ill child. She says: "I am sharing this story because I am Adam Lanza’s mother. I am Dylan Klebold’s and Eric Harris’s mother. I am Jason Holmes’s mother. I am Jared Loughner’s mother. I am Seung-Hui Cho’s mother. And these boys—and their mothers—need help."

As she says, it is easy to rage for gun control. But in a nation with over 100 million firearms and the highest rate of gun ownership in the world, 88%, even if we stopped all new production of firearms, they would still be readily available for criminals and people bent upon violence.

I found this "Anarchist Soccer Mom's" essay to be disturbing and true. Guns are the easy target for our rage. But a more effective response to the tragedy in Newtown must address the inadequate, almost nonexistent support system for treating mental illness in this country.

Thinking the unthinkable

Caveat: I do not wish to imply in any way that mental illness leads to violence. Quite the opposite. We need to ensure that illnesses of the mind and emotion are not stigmatized, feared or misunderstood.  We must be compassionate and understanding, and hope to prevent new tragedies.

Originally posted to Joe Hills Ghost on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 09:13 AM PST.

Also republished by Mental Health Awareness.

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