WTVM 04/05/14 Editorial: Fort Hood shooting and mental illness

(WTVM) - The motive behind the latest deadly shooting at Fort Hood in Texas is not yet fully known.

What role, if any, did the sleep drug Ambien play in the carnage? Or the anti-depressants the shooter, Ivan Lopez, was said to be taking? Did he actually have post-traumatic stress disorder? And what about word of an argument with a fellow soldier?

We can't know exactly what happened at Fort Hood, so it's premature and irresponsible to blame any single factor right now.

Army Secretary John McHugh said Lopez had a clean disciplinary record, but was undergoing treatment for mental health conditions including depression, anxiety and sleep disturbance.

The Army says Lopez was prescribed, "A number of drugs including Ambien."

The Army also promises a thorough investigation.

What we do know is that mental health issues are very real for many Americans in and out of uniform.

Help is available, but the right help, and the right combination of drugs, if drugs are warranted, is not so common.

It may be worthwhile to remind each other that we must remove the stigma attached to mental illness and treatment.

Soldiers are human beings first. And simply putting on a uniform does not shield them against mental illness.

At the same time, hundreds of thousands of soldiers bravely endure combat missions without suffering any breakdowns.

No magic pill exists to cure mental illness because everyone is unique.

Friends and family can play vital roles in helping identify troubling behavior in a loved one, and by encouraging them to seek help in a way that is decisive, but not nonjudgmental.

Real cures take patience, good medicine, understanding and time to heal.

General Manager Holly Steuart brings two editorials a week to WTVM. If you would like to respond to an editorial, e-mail your response to WTVM Editorial Committee or write to:

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