Last Wednesday afternoon, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz took away the lives of at least seventeen individuals in a deadly school shooting at a Florida high school. Many others were injured while families and the community were left to grieve over their loved ones and were in fear for their own safety. The result of this incident left a wave of discussions as many advocated for the strengthening of gun laws in America - voices that were particularly aimed towards President Trump. While it is undeniable that people of power need to stop feeding off of the NRA and do what is in the best interest of future generations, mental health is something that also plays a significant role in tragedies as devastating as this school shooting.
There have been and still are numerous events where the importance of mental health and the well-being of others were terribly neglected.
Youtube’s “content creator” Logan Paul was under fire for posting an explicit video of a dead body in the Suicide Forest of Japan. In that video, he showed blatant ignorance and insensitivity to the victim of the suicide. After showing the dead body on camera, he and his friend proceeded to make jokes and laugh about the body, attempting to create edgy humor and “entertainment” for his 12-year-old audience.
Adult film star August Ames hung herself after receiving backlash from Twitter for posting a seemingly homophobic statement regarding homosexual adult film stars. She became another victim of suicide after not being able to receive such brutal comments from the public. People began to retaliate after her death, considering the fact that they should have “let her learn” instead of being so quick to hit her with mean and hurtful insults. In spite of what those people could have said, August Ames still lost her life over a detrimental mental health issue.
Aside from these incidents that were greatly covered in the media, so many victims of mental health problems are still left unheard, including those in our own community. Teenagers are too commonly faced with depression and mood disorders, more than any other age group. The streets of East Hastings are known as unsafe and “sketchy” due to the many troubled victims of addiction and substance abuse. Youth suicide is an issue that is so prevalent in the Indigenous community and yet, it is a topic that hardly ever gets covered in the media.
While there are many resources out there that can provide guidance and support for those in need, work clearly must be done. More money needs to be spent towards education and easier access to places for bettering mental health. More media coverage is needed on this issue. More people need to realize how much of an impact the stability of mental health can actually make. Going back to the school shooting in Florida, the 19-year-old shooter was expelled due to behavioral problems and had troubles back at home. If Cruz had been referred to a youth clinic or a support group of some sort to deal with his problems, it would have been less likely for him to take his rage out on the innocent students, staffs, and so many lives that could have been saved.
There is no reason why there should not be a discussion around the topic of sustaining mental health. Many steps need to be taken in order to progress, and it ultimately starts with speaking out. The world needs to be educated and every individual should have access to the help they need.