In the aftermath of the devastation from the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, people are trying to figure out what can be done to prevent another mass shooting. The issues of gun control and mental health care are on center stage because the alleged lone gunman in the massacre of 20 children and 6 adults was 20-year-old Adam Lanza. Lanza purportedly suffered from a mental disorder.
In a blog post titled "I am Adam Lanza's Mother," writer Liza Long of Boise, Idaho, recalls the painful details of raising a 13-year-old son with mental illness. Long is not Lanza's mother. She shares a recent incident she experienced with her son, whom she refers to as "Michael" (not his real name). Long says Michael missed the school bus when he tried to wear a pair of blue pants to school even though he is aware that his school dress code calls for black or khaki pants only. Michael becomes verbally abusive toward his mother when she tells him that he is not allowed to wear the blue pants to school. She wrote, "I live with a son who is mentally ill. I love my son. But he terrifies me." Long gives another example of her son's temper, "Michael pulled a knife and threatened to kill me and then himself after I asked him to return his overdue library books."
In the article, Long also notes how few treatment options there are for children. The blog post first surfaced on the "Anarchist Soccer Mom" blog and gained popularity on the aggregator site The Blue Review. The article made a huge impression over the weekend after it was reprinted on countless blogs. It also got front-page recognition on the social news site Reddit.
The article has also been criticized by numerous other bloggers. Long's own personal mental health was even called into question. Some people claim that Long's blog labels disabled kids as quick to act violently. Long spoke with NBC News about the depths of her struggle.
Her blog details moments when her son suddenly became angry and violent -- moments that led to the preteen's being committed to a mental hospital. Long felt that she did not have a lot of options for handling these outbursts. Her social worker advised her that to properly protect her son from himself and others from him, she would need to have him charged with a crime. The single mother of four feels that jail is not the right place for her son and the fact that this is her best option is a major failing of mental health care.
In closing her blog, Long writes, "It's time for a meaningful, nation-wide conversation about mental health. That's the only way our nation can ever truly heal."
Long's revealing blog has resonated with a number of people, including parents who feel the same way. Even those who disagree with parts of what Long expresses, seem to unite on one front. There needs to be more public awareness of mental illness, and more resources for how to deal with it. Her cry for help is not going unnoticed, and unfortunately, the timing is spot on.
[Related: Can Mental Screening Predict Mass Murder?]