'I Am Adam Lanza's Mother' Explains Why Sandy Hook Tragedy Won't Be the Last

white balloonsAs we have moved through the heartwrenching news in the wake of the Connecticut School shooting, there have been tears, anger, debate, and disgust. Mostly we want to know why? Why would anyone do this?

There's no answer that is good enough, but there is an answer, and one mother, Liza Long, revealed in a brutally painful essay titled "I Am Adam Lanza's Mother." I read it first thing this morning after Gawker published it, and I've read it countless times since. It chilled me to my core, as I read each stark powerful word.

In it she talks about her 13-year-son and his struggles with mental illness. She describes how the very son she gave birth to and loves also terrifies her. They've been through mental hospitals, police involvement, and trips to the ER for his violent outbursts. They can't pinpoint a specific problem, and nothing they've tried, from drugs to therapy, has worked. He regularly threatens to kill himself and kill his mother

She writes:

I am sharing this story because I am Adam Lanza’s mother. I am Dylan Klebold’s and Eric Harris’s mother. I am Jason Holmes’s mother. I am Jared Loughner’s mother. I am Seung-Hui Cho’s mother. And these boys—and their mothers—need help. In the wake of another horrific national tragedy, it’s easy to talk about guns. But it’s time to talk about mental illness.

The only option she's been given by a social worker is jail.

No one wants to send a 13-year old genius who loves Harry Potter and his snuggle animal collection to jail. But our society, with its stigma on mental illness and its broken healthcare system, does not provide us with other options. Then another tortured soul shoots up a fast food restaurant. A mall. A kindergarten classroom. And we wring our hands and say, "Something must be done."

I agree that something must be done. It's time for a meaningful, nation-wide conversation about mental health. That's the only way our nation can ever truly heal.

God help me. God help Michael. God help us all.

Amen. I look at my own sweet children, and I can't imagine how I would cope if I saw signs like this in them. Would I be strong enough to make the hard choices? Would I even know what choices there were? Or would I, like so many do, be embarrassed, protective, or paralyzed with fear? I don't know, and I don't think anyone does until they're in that position. And the reality is that any of us could be in that position; mental illness can strike anyone. We ALL could be Adam Lanza's parents.

While I agree that we need to address gun control (though I'm torn as to how), I, like Long, believe the bigger issue, the most significant issue is mental illness in our society. We can't continue to ignore it. We can't pretend that there aren't mothers like this across the country feeling guilty, and helpless, and scared. We have to figure out a way to help them and their children before more of our children are killed.

Because even if there are no guns left, there will be people sick enough to want to do something like this. And that is dangerous in any society.

What do you think of this mother's essay?


Image via MaretH./Flickr

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hopea... hopealways4019

Its ashamed that mr.lanza father was involved to help his son. These kids need more than just financial support, they need a strong male role model. His mother was left to help her son fight his demons alone. I know she was physically and emotionally drained. She probably didn't want to have her son committed. We love our kids unconditionally, and want to nuture and help them. But we sometimes fail to realize they beyond help. We raised them.,did right by them, but its not enough. If you really love them, got to let them ago, because sometimes love ain't enough.

nakp nakp

It's very hard for a mom but reality is reality. The important thing what can we do best. It's so sad but there is some mental illness doesnt get better. I know it's so overwhelming for families too. My cousin have mental problem after he got an traffic accident and all familys life changed forever.

For kids which has mental illness maybe special schools will helps. In my country I know there are special hospitals and they commune over there. Everybody doing something else and they even sell their hand works and earn money.

KathyTh. KathyTh.

So many of you are clueless about mental illness.  My brother is mentally ill (bipolar) and we have tried, literally for decades, to do something about it.  We can't have him committed against his will until we can prove that he's a danger to himself or someone else.  He is CLEARLY a danger, but we can't prove it to a judge, so there's nothing we can do.  One day he may take a gun and shoot up a restaurant or school full of people and everyone will wonder why we didn't do something.  We've tried.  And tried and tried. And to MaiasMommy, my parents have known since he was a small child that he was capable of violent, possibly homicidal behavior.  No one is more aware than they are.  But getting him help?  After the age of 18, their hands were tied and they can't do a damn thing. So don't you dare tell me that the issue is that parents don't want to believe their child could commit the next horrific crime.  The mental health system is a mess and won't protect us from people like my brother. 

KathyTh. KathyTh.

@kaerae, in the local newspaper this morning, the security officer at the high school that Adam Lanza attended was interviewed.  He said that Adam was odd and definitely a loner, but he said the only thing he worried about was that Adam would be the victim of bullying.  He knew him well, and never thought the kid could be violent.  Maybe the mom had the same thoughts.  So sad.

Spiri... SpiritWish

I read this essay this morning. When I was done, I quietly set to work on this week's essay. When I finished, I took a shower and cried. I have 2 children with severe mental/emotional issues. Were they born with their issues? I truly don't know. What I do know is that the social culture we now live in has not and will not help. I say this because some fool with serious ambition who wanted to be at the top, no matter who they destroyed did just that. My son has what they call an SIED. His IEP was volumes and volumes of information that I couldn't understand and desperately needed someone to interpret for me. It was this "advocate" who contacted CPS and made the recommendation that my children be removed from my custody due to my inability to properly provide mental health services to my kids. I barely had Medicaid, and how many pediatric psychiatrists are there to begin with, let alone accept patients on medicaid?! All of my children were severely abused while in foster care. I remember watching my children withdraw. Once home, in order for my daughter who was severely brutalized to cope, she turned to drugs. Because of the culture and the deep involvement of the government and CPS, why do we need to ask what needs to be done? We already know! As parents, we need to take our rights back and keep outside influences at arm's length. It's the sense of entitlement and the fact that kids today are not disciplined. Parents are not supposed to be afraid of parenting their kids.

annie... annieheart

Its so true.I think it is easier to think of the mentally ill as monsters.Its more scary thinking of them as ill people who are tormented by their own mind.

nonmember avatar Anonymous

Kelticmom, I disagree. For every ounce of hatred in not only America, but EVERY country, there is a hundred ounces of love and hope and prayer. Look at the parents morning the loss of their precious babies right now...they are so full of love and hope and gratitude. They shouldn't be worried about ANYTHING except the loss they are feeling, but they're thanking people for their prayers and thoughts and positive messages of hope. So many people are posting positive things...much more than anyone being rude and hateful. So please do not generalize about "Americans" and say nothing will change because of the people in America. We are not all horrible and full of evil. The world is full of more love than anyone can even begin to fathom and I'm truly tired of people saying otherwise.

EvaSa... EvaSamuel

Yes, we absolutley need better mental health care in this country.  For goodness sakes, our veterans, the men and women who protect us, have trouble receiving proper mental health care and they return from war.  However, I am beyond disturbed by the access that people who may or may not need mental health care have to weapons.  My concern is that, should Congress or any other legislature attempt to enact legislation regarding more comprehensive mental health care, would there be a minority who decries such a program as "entitlement"?  Would it be something that falls victim to budget cuts?  I personally believe that the response to this gut-wrenching tragedy should be two-fold.  Better, more comprehensive mental health care for everyone and stricter access to guns and an outright ban on some weapons.  

nonmember avatar Jay

We had a mass shooting here in Australia in 1996, 35 people were killed. Our gun laws were tightened and there has never been another mass shooting since! Improving mental health care is a huge part of the solution but tighter gun laws WILL help the situation.

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