I scrolled through LinkedIn. “One dead, two injured, another campus shooting.” I couldn’t believe it. It was the second one this week…. My heart stopped. While part of my brain continued to read, another part begin to pray. Yet another part figured out that even with the time difference I would have heard something by now.
The shooting was at Northern Arizona University; my nephew attends college there. I am a college administrator. I have considered the reality of an active shooter many times. We train for it. We talk it. We pray it will never happen. Never once had I thought of it happening at my nephew’s campus.
I messaged him on Facebook. Sometimes, because he’s twenty, he’s not the most responsive kid. I told him, I need to hear from you. Being the precious kid he is, he got right back with me. “I was way on the other side of campus but it’s weird because I’ve been in that building tons of times.” I could tell he had considered the “what ifs.” Isn’t that what everyone does to process it?
My nephew was fine. But someone’s nephew, someone’s son, was dead. Two more were injured. Someone else’s son is going to prison. Politicians and others with their own political agendas are going to start talking about gun control again.
I don’t know the facts of this or the other campus shooting this week. I do know that almost all college campus and school shootings have nothing to do with guns, ammunition, or even evil. The one thing they all have in common is mental illness.
I work in academic affairs, not student affairs, and I’m not a psychologist. I don’t speak from a place of expertise. But I am 100 percent certain that I am correct when I tell you what is at the heart of college campus shootings is mental illness. As long as we see it as a gun issue, we will never solve the issue. Parents, colleges, and society in general have to see it as a mental illness issue in order to resolve the problem.
I do think we have made great progress in how to protect the masses on campuses since shootings at Columbine and Virginia Tech. We know so much more about how to mitigate death and injury once shootings begin. Now we just have to learn about how mental illness presents and how it manifests itself so these incidences can be avoided in the first place. Of course there are just as many others who think my opinion IS a political agenda and that I am off the mark and that I don’t have a clue what I’m talking about. The third article I’ve listed (nih) lays all the political stuff out pretty well for anyone who’s interested.
To what do you look to as the root cause for the school and college shootings in America? What of the other mass shootings? Do you think we are making headway in coming up with solutions?