About mental illness

The STEM School Highlands Ranch shooting last week is yet another act of violence but with notable aspects. “NBC Nightly News” included an interview of one of the students who said, ”It’s all about mental health, it’s all about being there for them, it’s all about being together …” In unison, students repeatedly chanted “mental illness.” I have never heard or read such profound statements or such reactions about the role of mental illness either from parents, teachers or students following prior shootings.

All too often, reporters say there was no apparent motive. I maintain that the underlying cause is almost always mental illness, not acting on a motive.

Similar to prior episodes, there were several “red flags” that were totally ignored. In addition, some students recalled one of the suspects thinking about bringing a weapon to school. Again, there was no response.

Instead of focusing on gun control, we must recognize and immediately react to aberrant behavior. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI ) has recently developed a program called Ending the Silence for students, parents and teachers, which outlines the warning signs and symptoms of mental illness and suicides with appropriate responses. The Summit County affiliate of NAMI currently offers this program, which includes young adults describing their experiences with mental illness during high school.

Mental illness occurs in 20% of our population. Recognition of the signs and symptoms and referral for treatment are absolutely critical to help prevent future acts of violence.

Richard M. Schwartz, M.D.

President, NAMI Summit County


Healthy with Medicare

Regarding the letter about universal health care (“Wrong question,” May 8), the writer couldn’t be more wrong.

His assertion that a single-payer program means loss of freedom is the opposite of reality. Medicare is a single-payer system, and yet remains the most popular health insurance plan. Hospitals are not owned by and physicians are not hired by the plan. I can practice medicine for my patients as I see fit under Medicare, which is not true under every other health insurance plan.

When I had a patient under Medicare who needed an MRI scan for a possible brain tumor, I had the report in two days. Under one of the traditional health insurance plans and for the exact same indication, I was still trying to get permission for that scan two weeks later despite hours of effort by me and my staff. Under Medicare you have the freedom to see any specialist you want, but have a very limited choice under the other plans.

If Republicans in Congress hadn’t decided that Medicare should not be able to negotiate drug discounts, we could greatly reduce the cost of medicines. Pharmaceutical companies would still be rewarded (and handsomely) for developing better medicines, but they wouldn’t be allowed to gouge the public as they do now.

The writer's assertion that “the government” would somehow tell you when to report to a nursing home — well, that is totally absurd and unrealistic. I’m not surprised he is so fearful of universal health care as obviously someone is feeding him misinformation.

Steven L. Cochran, M.D., Bath


Cut it out, Trump

Every time I read something about our president, he is so disrespectful of others by giving them nicknames (“Trump cheers economy, criticizes Democrats at Wis. rally,” April 28). If he wants my respect, he needs to stop the name calling and grow up. In all my life, I can't remember another president being so disrespectful of others. No wonder our country is going down the tubes.

Nancy Leonard, Kent