When I wrote the blog about Major Hasan, the soldier who went on a rampage at Fort Hood I received a tremendous amount of response decrying my belief that the man might have a mental illness. Most responders believed he was a “Muslim terrorist” and that mental illness had nothing to do with his act.
With yesterday’s accused “Pentagon Attacker,” Joseph Bedell, the link seems more clear cut. His family had struggled for years to get him into treatment. But, as so often is the case unless he displayed an obvious threat to himself or others, they were limited in what they could do to help. Even the law officer that stopped him for a moving violation in Texas could tell he needed to be in a hospital, but he wasn’t able to get him admitted. Mr Bedell was a threat to himself and others and no one paid attention.
There were so many red flags. Like so many people in our country he was agitated with our government. Like so many of us that are tired of the activities or in-activities of our legislature, he was frustrated and angry. But, unlike most of us, he wasn’t able to contain his anger and acted out in the most savage way he could.
As an advocate for people with mental illness, his tragic story reminds me once again how far we need to go when it comes to treating our fellow human beings that are suffering from brain disorders. Inflammatory rhetoric and inexcusable callousness does not further growth as a species and can have a devastating effect on some of our most vulnerable. Compassion and understanding have positive effects. Pushing those living with mental illness aside and pretending they don’t exist, that they are “terrorists,” or that they are someone else’s problem has consquences.