This will be a news story told the next several days a thousand times, praised a hundred different ways, and likely gone viral on social media. This last Tuesday in Decatur, Georgia a simple office clerk at an elementary school, full of students, treated a psychologically unstable gunman as a human being and averted a potentially bloody all too familiar school massacre. The risks that Antoinette Tuff had put herself can only be described as temporarily super-human — the right person, with the right background, in the right place at the right time — possibly saving many more young innocent lives.
If you haven’t yet listened or watched the news footage on all major networks, then do it. It is well worth the time. Here’s the CNN link: click here.
This story and lady hits a very personal nerve and flashback with me. I have been in (and in some ways am still in today) practically the exact same situation Ms. Tuff found herself. My personal story with a mentally unstable gunman can be read here: What Was I Thinking?
I am also an elementary-middle school teacher. I am a brother to a psychiatric sister who often either gets off her psych-meds or is forced off her psych-meds due to clinical restrictions, bureaucratic tape or “economic policy.” Our local state hospital and nearby meds-clinic just recently had a woman refused her psych prescriptions (reasons unknown to me) then left the clinic emotionally distraught in her car and crashed it 3-blocks away, killing herself and injuring others at the four-way red-light intersection. I am also a former 3 1/2 year employee of a Psych-A&D hospital’s Intake Office or Crisis Center/Office. I do indeed have personal experience with many situations like Ms. Tuff experienced, including her own divorce — for me two divorces — and thoughts of suicide by her self and her gunman; although in my personal experience the suicide was accomplished.
So watching and listening to Ms. Tuff’s situation and 911 call, choked me up and touched a sensitive emotional nerve with me…to put it mildly.
I have three points or questions I want to present to my readers and followers:
- Did Ms. Tuff’s demeanor and treatment of the gunman de-escalate his emotional and mental instability, or did the gunman eventually recognize his own insane behavior?
- How far should individuals or society allow mental psych patients (on or off their meds) to throw tantrums of highly inappropriate behavior, even violence, to get what they want?
- Given that the majority of mental psych patients (and often their families) cannot function perfectly in society or jobs/careers, WHO should foot their treatment bills? Who suffers most when people like this gunman snap?
With these questions I hope to draw attention to America’s increasingly social dysfunctional problem-solving systems and education, as well as how best to address them. Do we keep locking them up? They’ve done that hundreds of times with my sister with little improvement other than temporary band-aids.
Please let me hear your comments, thoughts and feelings. Because one day you may find yourself face-to-face with the same type of gunman. What would you do in Ms. Tuff’s situation?
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