On Feb. 26 Debra Denison picked up her two grandsons, two-year-old Alton Perry and six-month-old Ashton Perry from their day care facility. She then drove them to a nearby town where she shot and killed both of them before turning the gun on herself. To add just another level of grief to this story, it was Alton’s second birthday and his mother had prepared a birthday party for him and was awaiting his arrival home to celebrate. This horribly tragic event has fueled the already heated debate on gun control and mental illness sparked by the massacre at Sandy Hook, not only in the state, but across the country.
The issues surrounding gun control legislation and mental illness care is in no way new to society. The Second Amendment has been largely argued over for a long enough period of time, where each side has openly expressed their opinions in such a way that it would be impossible to find a new angle that could give either side an upper hand. Unfortunately, it usually takes horrific incidents of violence for there to be enough argument over the treatment of those who suffer from mental illness to gain media attention.
It is only natural for people to seek out an individual to blame in events such as the murder of two young children; it is how we as human beings cope with tragedy. If no one is to blame then how can we move forward? There is a need for a scapegoat to carry the anger and confusion of the public. What is frustrating is the ignorance that follows already devastating circumstances. In this case, the mother of the two children has been the subject of shameless criticism by the public; claims that she should have known better than to leave her bipolar mother with her children were almost instantaneously flooding Twitter and Facebook, leaving very little room for sympathy or understanding.
So should people who suffer from mental illness such as bipolar disorder be discouraged from living ordinary day-to-day lives? Clearly the murder of two small children is a devastating turn of events but in no way should the mother who is suffering the loss of both her children face any sort of blame. Although Denison suffered from a mental disorder, she was obviously capable of raising her own children. There clearly was a level of trust shared between Denison and the mother as well. Day cares are not allowed to just hand children over to anyone who comes in and claims them; Denison had to have had permission to pick up the children from day care. Up until that day, it might even be safe to assume that Denison was capable of functioning quite normally.
So, how do we prevent future acts of violence like this from occurring? Should everyone labeled with a mental illness be locked away and treated like a ticking time bomb? The sad and frustrating truth is that there will never be a way to completely prevent tragedies like this. It is ignorantly unfair to blame the individuals who place trust in family members just because of a condition, however. If there is any debate to stem from occurrences like this, it should be how to filter ignorant banter from social media because there will never be a positive outcome from that.