As more information continues to be released by investigators, the horror of last Friday’s attack at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut continues to rip at our hearts.
Twenty-six people were killed; among them 20 students, ages 6 and 7 years old. Theirs were lives that were probably busy preparing for the upcoming holidays, taken by a 20-year-old in one instance of deadly mayhem that has officials searching for a motive.
According to news reports, the killer, Adam Lanza, was diagnosed with the autism-related Asperger’s syndrome and afflicted with a medical condition that kept him from feeling physical pain. He was enthralled by shoot-em-up electronic games. There were probably other issues as well. He lived with his mother since his parents’ 2009 divorce and spent much of his time alone at home, either reading or on his computers. Lanza was described as introverted and one who could become a victim of bullying, but not a threat to others. What happened? What was going through Lanza’s mind when he decided to kill his mother then travel to the school on a murderous rampage?
One of the ways you can help the people of Newtown is to contribute to the nonprofit Newtown Youth and Family Services, which will be providing counseling for families, community members and school staff – all donations will go to helping those impacted.
That brought to mind our own Upper Perk Youth and Family Services, whose impending demise was announced last week. An article on the Town and Country’s front page reported that the local service group was “another victim of funding cuts and belt-tightening as the nation’s economic struggles continue. Cutbacks in Montgomery County finances and funding mandates are contributing factors. In addition, funding from the United Way ceased to the organization at least two years ago.”
Counseling programs provided by YFS included: bullying and harassment awareness programs in local schools, substance abuse, mental health services, drug and alcohol prevention, diversity, and anger management. Many of the programs were presented to area youth through the Upper Perkiomen School District.
Counseling and treatment for mental health disorders is an easy target for government budget cuts or decreases in worldwide public charities that use results-based mandates as a condition of funding. Does a person who suffers from a mental health disorder wake up one morning and announce “I’m cured” so councilors can complete the appropriate form in order to receive payment?
Many of us fail to notice the backseat treatment of mental health disorders given by insurance companies. Look at your own insurance policy and see for yourself.
The failure to diagnose and prevent is widespread.
The bickering over acts (perceived and otherwise) of class warfare, racism and political feuds pale in our minds as we mourn.
We pray for the families of the Sandy Hook Elementary School victims and all affected by the tragedy. The unimaginable pain they bare will be with them for a long time. The enduring hope is that it’s always darkest before the dawn.
On the eve of one of the most sacred of Christian days, we at the Town and Country newspaper wish you a safe Christmas and a promising New Year.