More on the Chardon Tragedy
Sadly, a third student has lost his life after yesterday’s shooting at an Ohio high school. As expected, as the story continues to unfold, details are emerging, and it’s a tightly wound ball of confusion. According to a published report today, the prosecutor, David Joyce, says that bullying wasn’t a factor in the shooting, that Thomas “TJ” Lane has admitted to taking the .22 caliber gun, and a knife, into the school Monday morning and randomly shooting his victims. Yet, in an article also released just today, “students say Thomas was shy and targeted by bullies.” Again, the pieces of this puzzle are still being sorted and spread across the kitchen table as authorities try to put it all together.
In the court of public opinion, the pendulum has swayed from the “bullying must end” sentiment to the “he’s an animal” wrath. The bullying card is apparently still in the deck. And, with all due respect to the victims and their families, (and, with my deepest sympathies and sincerest condolences), the early indication is that TJ is not “an animal”, either. Rather, there are apparent deep-rooted mental health issues in play here.
What is emerging is that Thomas Lane is a troubled young man. Tumultuous family life, with his parents divorcing when he was young, and his father spending substantial time behind bars for abusing women, amongst other things, including TJ’s mother. One of the things that was pointed out from the beginning was that Lane had been looking into information about depression. Did he WANT help but couldn’t find it? That answer is yet to come.
I return to my original assertion that somebody, ANYBODY!, should’ve taken his tweets from the previous day seriously. He allegedly tweeted that he was going to “bring a gun to school”. No one took him seriously. If any one person would’ve, this could’ve been prevented. Would’ve, could’ve. But, it goes beyond even that. According to news reports, and as stated in the original post, Lane had posted dark status updates to his facebook page that, again, apparently no one paid attention to. Gregg Jantz, a psychologist and mental health author from Seattle, says that Lane’s Facebook post from December should have triggered a red flag with any adult who saw it.
“That kind of writing is warning sign of an impending disaster,” Jantz told The Huffington Post. “We don’t need anything more. He was forecasting his struggles right there.”
If we are to avoid tragedies like Chardon High School, if we’re to start preventing teen suicides, it’s absolutely essential that we pay close attention to what’s being said. And, done. There ARE warning signs. It is imperative that every one of us pay attention to the red flags as they pop up. And, they will pop up.
I posted this link in an earlier blog post about depression: I think this would be a very effective tool for educating about depression. I believe this program should be implemented in every school across the country, and around the world. There’s no way to have enough tools available to fight what’s going on with today’s youth. That said, I strongly encourage every one to push to get this program implemented in your local schools. If you’re parents, if you have younger siblings, if you have friends who could be at risk, wouldn’t you feel better knowing that everyone in their school is being educated about depression and how to deal with it? I know it would certainly give me a little peace of mind. It’s also a valuable tool to have in the home. Home is absolutely where all of this begins. Unfortunately, “home” failed Thomas Lane. And, as a result, three families must struggle to make sense of the madness that claimed their loved one’s life. As a result, the small community of Chardon, Ohio has been changed forever.
Rest in peace:
- Daniel Parmertor
- Russell King, Jr.
- Demetrius Hewlin