News and Tribune

Columns

December 22, 2012

DODD: Lights under Louisville

(Continued)

School Threat Arrest

I have no idea how the arrest of a 15-year-old Jeffersonville High School student will play out, but I certainly hope parents will use this incident as a teaching tool. What you write on any public Internet forum can have some much unintended consequences which can include, as in this case, some legal problems.

It’s too soon to know if the threat was real or simply some immature attempt at a bad prank. It goes without saying that the ill-timed postings were certainly what anyone would have to call at the very least in very bad taste.

Newtown Aftermath

It’s hard to imagine writing anything for publishing this week and not somehow reference the Sandy Hook Elementary shootings. I won’t in any way attempt to explain the unexplainable. Quite simply, much like many other such public tragedies there is no way for any rational person to make sense of any of it.

I likewise won’t try to engage in any type of gun control debate at this time. However, I do hope another side effect of the situation will be that a serious discussion on mental health treatment begins immediately and spurs some much needed relief.

There is simply not enough availability for people needing mental health services in our country today. Unless you have the very best insurance plan, it is also unaffordable to many. Ask anyone in the corrections industry about where people who are picked up by the police and are in serious need of mental treatment or in some cases simply confinement to a mental health facility end up being housed.

There are people who literally pass by you every day in this community who are mentally unstable. Many are only a real threat to themselves unless they feel threatened or cornered. Then depending upon their particular condition or diagnosis, they can turn physically violent and/or dangerous in an instant with the slightest and most unintentionally provocative action.

It’s well past time to address the current status quo regarding mental health treatment. For anyone who has never personally had an encounter, I can assure you a chance meeting on a city street can certainly be an unpleasant experience. Many of these potentially dangerous persons can be controlled and rendered much less harmful with proper mental health treatment and available drug therapy.

Having dealt with such people first-hand, I can assure you they can certainly lead to an unnerving encounter. I have seen people engage in some most inhuman actions. Currently, the jails and the courts have to deal with them on a regular basis, with too often very few available alternatives for the help they so desperately need.

— Lindon Dodd is a freelance writer who can be reached at lindon.dodd@hotmail.com

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