All of us have wondered these past few days about the 'why' of the school shooting. Experts, politicians, law enforcement, media, and us in the public will be discussing it until another tragedy or another more interesting media created event is brought to light. Then we will shift to it and the kids will be forgotten. It is my belief that the core of this epidemic is mental illness. Would any sane person shoot another in cold blood at a church, a mall, a theater, or an elementary school? I think not. I do not see the need for semi-automatic weapons with clips that house thirty bullets as being necessary. That weapon is good for one thing - killing. That, however, I leave to politicians.
I am discussing today, the relationship between high level, intelligence and mass killers. The 'Una-Bomber, The Aurora Theater killer, possibly this kid in Connecticut, and others may give us some clue of genetic defect. Does anyone know of any studies on this matter? Have any of you read the Blog titled, "I am Adam Lanza's Mother"? This was written by Ms. Liza Long. She has a thirteen year old son who has math scores off the charts. He understands high level concepts and he is mentally ill. She fears for her life. When her son goes into the 'attack mode', the younger children activate the drill they practiced. They run to the car and lock the doors.
Here is another instance of an exceptionally intelligent child who demonstrates the ability to hurt himself or others. I have another story for you. In the third grade, young 'Tom' (not his real name) could perform advanced algebra, understood geometry and was functioning at a freshman in college level. He was reading at the sophomore in college level. The gifted program he attended at school was no challenge, and there were behavior problems. The social problems increased as he grew older. The 'system' missed it all. The school said the behavior was typical of some kids and they would 'keep an eye on it'. His divorced mother had him committed to a State Mental Health Camp. He slept outdoors in a tent, ate meals in the cafeteria, attended strict classes, and daily psychological counseling. His regimen was restricted. He was told when to sleep, when to eat, permission was required for all phases of his life. He was in the ninth grade.
His father lived in another state and came for a series of meetings and counseling for a weekend with his son and the psychologist. His father was told that 'Tom' was their poster child. He was excelling in all phases of the program. The weekend went great for both 'Tom' and his father. It was a few weeks later he was discharged with maximum potential met.
This highly gifted, intelligent boy was placed in the accelerated classes as a sophomore. Behavior was tense at times at home but not like it had been a year or so prior. One day, 'Tom' stood up and walked out of class. He walked out the door. He walked out of the lives of his divorced parents. He disappeared for a year. Police reports were filed and he simply vanished. Later the parents were to hear that he lived in a commune in another state, had lied about his age, and held a job. The prodigal son returned married to a thirty year old woman. He was seventeen. Then he 'found religion'.
He appeared to settle into what appeared to be a normal life working as a plumber. That was short-lived, as the mental illness returned with a vengeance. He was diagnosed with apparent schizoid personality and was given medications. He quit work and received disability. By this time he had three children of his own. He insisted they attend a Baptist School. During conversations with his father he would quote scripture, tell the father he was preparing for a war against the Catholics, and admonish his father who was not 'right with the Lord'. His wife would find him reading the Bible in the darken closet with a flashlight. She knew he was not taking his medications.
After thirty years or more of nothing but negative stress the father hung up the telephone for the last time and disavowed his son. The final straw was when 'Tom' said the father could no longer see his grandchildren because he drank beer. And so it was - the grandfather cut all ties and never saw his grandchildren again. The father refused to send any birthday cards, Christmas gifts, or answer the phone when the son would telephone.
There was no communication at all for several years. One night the calls began at midnight. Caller identification showed it was 'Tom'. He called over and over - some fifteen times and the father did not answer the phone. Then the words were spoken into the voice mail. "I'm coming for you! I am going to kill you! You will not live to see tomorrow!"
Here was a once gifted, now mentally ill person who was on the verge of committing murder. The father called his local police. He called the sheriff and the police in the jurisdiction where the son lived. He was told by authorities there was nothing they could do because of, "...his mental illness. People like this have more rights in this State than you or I," he was told. Another department representative told the father, "The only way we get involved is if a crime is committed. I suggest you get a gun!"
Now intelligent, mentally ill people can be masters at quickly changing roles and behaviors. The police did offer to go by the son's house and see if he was in a state of distress and not taking his medicines. They called the father back after some time and said he appeared quite normal and was doing fine. The phone calls stopped. Oh yes, and the grandchildren - they were home schooled by the son and his wife! How can any state in America allow the mentally ill to educate their children?
I don't know about the gun laws, but I do know the mental health laws and medical coverage should be examined. How do I know all of this?
'Tom' was my son!
Want to help others? Drop a line and pass on your experiences.