Tag Archives: mental health

If Not Now, When?-Thoughts On The Texas Church Massacre

One of the most famous questions that the philosopher Hillel the Elder asked is:

“If not now, when?” Ethics of the Fathers, 1:14

Every time there is a mass shooting in this country, decent minded citizens have asked when we can finally talk about gun control. The answer, the last few years, have been predictably that this is not the time.

Yesterday morning, there was a shooting at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.  26 people were killed, many of them children.

My heart hurts. My head hurts. We say the same thing in the aftermath of every mass shooting:”Our thoughts and prayers go to the victims and their families.” But at this point, the phrase has become meaningless.

I will not state the killer’s name on this blog, he’s receiving enough press. I will only say that mass shootings will continue to be the average news story in America until real change is made.

Back in 1996, there was a mass shooting in Australia, 35 people were murdered. Instead of waxing and waning (and giving into the gun industry, lobbyists and the NRA), the Australian government enacted sweeping and strict gun laws.  Since then, the Port Arthur massacre is the only mass shooting in recent Australian history.

Whether or not the gunman’s mental health played a part, only time will tell.  I’m just tired of hearing of another mass shooting and the loss of innocent lives.

P.S. I’m sure I’m not the only one to notice that Donald Trump’s responses to shooting are different based on the shooter. He called for the death penalty for the accused and the removal of the diversity visa program in response to the murder of 8 people in New York City last week, but his response to this shooting (where the killer was white) was markedly different. Just an observation.

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Filed under History, National News, New York City, Politics

Happy Belated Birthday Carrie Fisher

Yesterday would have been the 61st birthday of actress, writer and mental health advocate Carrie Fisher.

Originally known to audiences as Princess Leia Organa from the Star Wars films, she was the daughter of the late singer Eddie Fisher and his first wife, actor/singer, the late Debbie Reynolds.

I could write about what her legacy is to the millions of Star Wars fans around the world and to the millions who are suffering from mental illness, but that’s been done. I want to remember as a woman who was not afraid to call out the bullshit, especially in Hollywood. Since the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke two weeks ago, the floodgates of women who were sexually assaulted, not just by Weinstein, but other men in Hollywood have come forward. One of these men assaulted a friend of hers and Carrie responded as only she could.

In honor of Carrie, I give you Star Wars Rap Battle: Han Solo vs Princess Leia.

Happy Birthday, Carrie. You are gone, but never forgotten.

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Filed under Books, Feminism, Movies, Star Wars

Robin Williams-Gone Three Years Today

Today we remember the late, great Robin Williams who took his own life three years ago. He is sorely missed for his humor, his heart and his own unique brand of comedy that can never be duplicated.

When I think of Robin Williams, I think of one of my favorite childhood movies, Hook. There was no other actor who could have portrayed that character of the adult Peter Pan so perfectly.

His death also reminds me of how mental illness and depression specifically are not one size fits all diseases. For some people depression means staying home all day, mindlessly watching television and afraid to step out the door. For others, it means scheduling every moment of their day so they don’t have to face what is brewing inside them. For another group, it means putting on the mask and doing what has to be done, even though all they want to do is lay on the couch and watch television.

If I take away anything from his death (in addition to recent and heartbreaking loss of Chester Bennington), is that we need a new approach to treating mental illness. We also need to remove the stigma of mental health to allow those suffering to receive treatment openly and honestly.

Z”l Robin Williams. You are truly missed and loved.

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Is Suicide A Cowardly Act?

In the wake of the sudden loss of Linkin Park’s front man Chester Bennington to suicide earlier this week, the outward pouring of grief from fans, his band mates, fellow musicians, friends and his family speaks of the collective heartbreak of the loss of a man who will be missed.

Korn guitarist Ben “Head” Welch initially called Chester a coward before altering his statement.

Is suicide the act of a coward? Some may say yes. It is giving into our personal darkness instead of fighting and finding a way towards the light.

To label suicide as the act of a coward is wrong. It does not help those who are dealing with the pain of mental illness and it does not help the loved ones who lost someone to suicide.

Mental illness and suicide are a call for help. To label someone who has committed suicide as a coward only ostracizes those who are haunted by the specter of mental illness and the thoughts that lead to suicide.

I understand that grieving often brings us to say and do things we would not do otherwise. I also understand that we are all entitled to our opinions. But at the same time, the statement that suicide is cowardly only hurts the effort to prevent suicide and help those who feel that it is the only way out from their pain.

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RIP Chester Bennington

Suicide has claimed another life today. Chester Bennington, front man for the rock band Linkin Park, took his own life.

He was 41 years old.

It hurts.

It hurts because I know the pain and the agony that can bring on suicide. I also know that this man was an amazing musician. I am not a huge fan of Linkin Park, but I understood their music. One of their most recent hits, Heavy, hit a raw nerve. The lyrics spoke to me in a way that few songs have.

Suicide claims too many of us. It smothers our light and takes away the possibilities that life can bring.

My heart goes out to his family, his friends and those who knew him best.

RIP.

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The Black Dog-The Truth About Mental Illness

“When a good university friend of mine told me she had suffered from depression in high school, I reacted with skepticism and little understanding: ‘What do you mean, you couldn’t get out of bed in the morning?’” This is a meaningful quote from a text published by Sara Bøgh. A quote, that perfectly summons how…

via The Black Dog – DEPRESSION – — BayArt

If only we had the ability to be honest about our own black dogs, the world would be a better place.

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The Shooting At The Ft. Lauderdale Airport & The Cry For Help

Another week, another shooting. More innocent lives lost.

Yesterday, a gunman walked into the baggage area at the airport in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and starting shooting innocent passengers. By the time he stopped shooting, five people were dead and eight people were injured.

The man accused of the massacre is Esteban Santiago, a former member of the National Guard who had recently become a father for the first time. According to reports from the press and family members that have been interviewed since yesterday’s shooting, Mr. Esteban suffered from mental health issues.

Aside from the issues of lax gun laws and the fact that the TSA seems not to make changes until a tragedy happens, the major issue that seems to have contributed to the unnecessary loss of life is the mental health of the shooter.

Mental illness is not a joke. Millions of people, not just in the United States, but around the world, suffer from various forms of mental illness. Under the best of circumstances, those living with mental health issues attempt to live a normal life. Under the worst of circumstances, not only is the life of the sufferer taken, but he or she may kill someone else in the process.

The fact is that we need to take the issue seriously and we need to ensure that those suffering from mental illness receives the treatment they need. That treatment maybe the only thing that saves lives.

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RIP Patty Duke

Patty Duke passed away yesterday. She was 69.

Born in Elmhurst Queens, on December 14th, 1946, Ms. Duke was known to audiences first as Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker  (1962) opposite Anne Bancroft. Televisions fans of a certain age remember her as twin cousins in The Patty Duke Show (1963-1966).

In addition to her career, Ms. Duke was also an outspoken advocate in the arena of mental health and mental illness, topics that hit very close to home.

RIP.

 

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Filed under Life, Movies, New York City, Television

Another Life

I wrote last year about two friends of friends who took their lives.

Today I found out that another friend of a friend took her life.

While I didn’t know her or the circumstances that led her to commit suicide, I am heartbroken just the same.

Life is hard, we all know that. There is no one on this earth who is not dealing with personal problems or facing with challenges that seem insurmountable.

While many will laugh at mental health or marginalize the issue, the reality  is that we must take it seriously. Lives are at stake.

It is a reality that I know all too well.

RIP.

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