Kentucky voices

Ky. Voices: Mass stabbing reinforces need to aid the mentally ill

April 16, 2013 

Kelly Gunning is director of advocacy and public affairs for the National Alliance on Mentally Illness Lexington.

The latest rampage, last Tuesday in Texas, is yet another example that the gun debate currently raging in this country is absolutely not going to ultimately stop the surging violence of someone under the influence of homicidal delusions.

Dylan Quick, 20, has been charged with aggravated assault after going on a slashing rampage at a Texas community college on Tuesday. Fourteen people were wounded; thankfully, this time, none fatally.

Authorities say Quick had fantasized from childhood about stabbing people to death. His lawyer says he doesn't understand the accusations against him; he has been ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation and is on a suicide watch.

Nobody wants to see guns in the hands of people who are psychiatrically unstable. Most Americans understand the need for initiatives to curb gun violence, especially the automatic weapons and enormous magazines designed for military-type assault weapons, usually the weapons of choice for mass shootings and terrorism. We should not let ourselves be soothed or lulled into believing that those things alone will prevent future Sandy Hook-type nightmares.

Individuals with severe mental illness are not in control when they commit heinous, violent acts like the Sandy Hook tragedy. They have usually been experiencing long-term, haunting and relentless torture from homicidal delusions.

They have, and always will, find and invent ways to harm others and themselves, regardless of whether they have guns.

I don't know why expert after expert can't get this through to our policy makers. They continue to try and legislate us to safety, while mental health advocates and experts keep telling them to focus on reality. Even if they could eliminate every gun in America, there would still be knives and cars and box cutters and virtually any other device that could be used as a weapon.

The bottom line and the reality they continually ignore is that we will continue to experience preventable tragedy as long as mental illness treatment is ignored and eclipsed as the real deterrent.

We keep chanting the mantra: Fund and invest in the deteriorated, evaporating mental-health system. Treat the symptoms and the causes in which these horrendous acts of violence are rooted.

Kelly Gunning is director of advocacy and public affairs for the National Alliance on Mentally Illness Lexington.

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