Today is the one year anniversary of the murder-suicide at Virginia Tech, so I thought I’d write something even though it’s been a long day. According to an article in last week’s Chronicle of Higher Education, the main actions by Virginia governor Timothy Kaine have been to weaken privacy rights of individuals with mental illness, e.g. notify parents if a student has received treatment, and allow both public and private colleges to obtain records of mental health treatment from any other school the student has attended. Hopefully these records will only be used to help students, but somehow I doubt that this will lead to better care for the students in question, especially since this is an unfunded mandate like so many others. The round up of articles in today’s Chronicle doesn’t seem to address this issue — maybe I’ll write something when I have more time.
Meanwhile, my article giving a historical perspective on all this got accepted by the Harvard Review of Psychiatry and will be appearing soon. Also my former adviser and buddy Joan Jacobs Brumberg decided to hand over editing the collected volume on campus violence for Rutgers to me. She says that the main change at Cornell is there are now sirens on all the buildings. Now if they could just reduce the waiting time to get an appointment at the Counseling Service. . .
P.S. Here is a really awesome way to commemorate April 16. Reminds of me the “die-in” organized Women Strike for Peace after Nixon authorized bombing Cambodia.
Um, not so awesome as traumatizing. In Virginia we had a state wide moment of silence at noon today and bells were rung. That was meaninful and helpful. People lying down pretending to be dead on the anniversary of this traumatic tragedy? Not so much.
Taking guns away from people who have a mental health history will only make Americans feel safer, give a false sense of security, not actually make anyone safer. The vast majority of gun crimes and even suicides by gun are not committed by people with documented psychiatric histories. What these well intentioned folks are doing is further stigmatizing an already stigmatized group as all being dangerous, associating mental illness with violence again and again.
I am not a gun person, no one in my family has ever owned one or wanted one outside of military service, but making a federal database of everyone who has been committed or outpatient committed or now in Virgina and Maryland volunteered for hospitalization in some circumstances scares the heck out of me for good reason.
It would make more sense to raise the legal age for gun ownership to 30 with exceptions made for those who can proved they need a gun for work or other reasons. Or just stop selling guns to men– makes even more sense than the laws being proposed.
Or hey, here’s an idea, stop selling semi-automatic weapons and non-hunting guns at all to private citizens. England did it. http://hymes.wordpress.com , hoping I don’t see another lie in over this in a long time.
Thanks for your thoughtful comments. The purpose of this group is to reform gun laws across the board, not just for the mentally ill. I agree, creating a federal database of individuals with mental illness is scary.