As a UCLA student, I spent many weekends at the UCSB campus hanging out with friends, and socializing in the Greek system which was recently targeted by a mentally ill individual this past Friday. My sympathies go out to the victims, their families, and their friends. We have seen one too many killing sprees, and I am part of this country which wants to see them stop.
As a community, we must come together to support each other and not allow people or arguments to divide us. We can agree to disagree, but realize that we all want a stronger and safer society. We need to figure out what caused this unstable person to lose it and decide that killing people, and himself, would solve his problems.
The causes of this killing spree were made very clear in the killer’s 137 page manifesto. He felt shunned by women who he felt should have been attracted to him, he was ashamed to be a virgin, and he wanted to exact revenge on these women and other innocent people who he felt were part of the world who treated him poorly.
The killer seemed to have a very unstable home life with parents who did not fully understand the implications of their son’s psychological angst. He was obsessed with World of Warcraft, a computer game that allowed him to escape the real world. Unfortunately, even in the virtual world he could not escape the pangs of real rejection and isolation when his friends would play the game together at one person’s house, and not invite the killer.
Bullying was a constant theme throughout the manifesto, and the killer clearly resented his bullies. Delusional thoughts of grandeur, fame, and wealth were recurring themes as well.
Even though guns were used in the killing spree, so were knives, and his car. It’s clear that even if the killer didn't have guns that he would have still succeeded in killing a lot of people. To me, it doesn't really matter what a criminal kills with - guns, knives, cars, bombs, bats, hammers, etc. It all ends with the same result, unnecessary death and suffering. The cause is always a person or group of people who decide to use a tool for destructive purposes.
I don’t blame guns, knives, cars, the killer’s parents, or even the bullies who the killer tied to his problems. Yes, bullying is wrong and can cause terrible pain and anguish, but that does not permit victims of bullying to commit crimes at will.
I blame the killer. The singular person who performed the action.
To add more color to the mental illness issue, approximately two-thirds of all gun deaths in the United States every year are attributed to suicide. This tells us that America has more of a suicide problem, whose root causes are many.
This isn’t about holding hands and wishing things will get better. This is about taking concrete action and engaging people in our communities. This is about interacting more with our families, our friends, our co-workers, and even strangers who we may not have previously given the time of day. It's about getting off our phones and paying attention to what is happening right in front of our faces. This is about helping people in need. When you hear a cry for help, be there for that person.
I am not one to pass the buck and let the government or someone else take care of a problem if I can help in any way, big or small. I commit to being more aware, patient, caring, and generous with my time for those in need. There are numerous support organizations that help the mentally ill and the disenfranchised. I encourage you research and find organizations in your area or online that align with your interests. Knowing what resources are available is the first important step, and if you feel so inclined to donate your time and/or money, then all the better.
I hope you will join me and the millions of other people in our country who want a happier, safer America.