Virginia Tech - Guns, Videos, Mental Health

The windy evening caused the small candles that were handed out to extinguish, so students improvised with their cell phones while singing amazing grace.
George Washington University's vigil for the students of Virginia Tech - The Daily Colonial

Cho Seung-Hui, who shot thirty-two people at Virginia Tech, before taking his own life was severely mentally disturbed. Over seventeen months ago it was known to students, police, school authorities, and mental health experts that he was in need of prolonged mental health care. Despite this, perhaps from fear of lawsuits if action was taken to remove him from school or hospitalize him against his will, he was left to sink deeper into mental illness and delusional behavior.

Several commentators have point out the role played by violent video games in these major mass killings by young people. Games such as Counter-Strike and Super Columbine Massacre are sold to teenagers who can practice, in the same format as U.S. Army soldiers are trained, how to kill numerous people in the shortest possible time while keeping one's heart rate at or below normal levels. The Columbine school teenage shooters trained on such videos as did 16-year-old Jeff Weise of Minnesota, who killed nine people including seven at Red Lake High School, in an attack before taking his own life. The FBI and the Secret Service have reported that the key common thread in shool shootings is violent video games.

There was a double failure in the State of Virginia's gun laws. Despite his mental illness, which was known to police, Cho Seung-Hui had no trouble purchasing several guns and multiple clips of ammunition to go along with them. Further, there was a law in place which prohibited non mentally disturbed students and staff members of Virginia Tech from carrying legally licensed weapons while on campus.

Finally, what was the role played by bullying? Cho Seung-Hui's silence in high school was interpreted as a lack of ability to speak English since he had come to the United States at the age of eight. One of his classmates remarked that because of this he was "an easy target".

Were the dead and wounded at Virginia Tech victims of a failed mental health system, a violent video entertainment industry, a failed gun control policy, and a failure to control bullying by young teenagers?

Posted April 19, 2007


Peter said...

I clicked on the link to the Columbine Massacre video game. This is shocking! How can the American society tolerate the publication of a video game which actually seems to show the kids doing the Columbine school shooting?

I am all for freedom of expression but somehow this seems to be a terrible abuse of that freedom.

In previous threads on this blog we have discussed what kind of a society we wish to live in. Somehow those of you living in the USA have to find a way of taking the profit out of the manufacture of such video 'game?' trash.

Take care,

Helen Wright said...

I think that people like us are going to have to take a stand on these issues. If Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson can hold demonstrations to get Imus off the air why don't we hold demonstations to get Hip-Hop CDs, Massacre video games etc off the airwaves and store shelves also?

As a Presbyterian I would love to see my denomination's leaders get out from behind their desks and onto the streets. I'll be there to cheer them on!

Also, I'm starting to think that if we will never be able to get the U.S. Constitution changed with respect to the right to bear arms, then more of us need to get out there and purchase a gun! Perhaps we could do something if we were ever placed in a Virginia Tech situation.


Arthur McCorry said...

The amazing thing is that one pays tuition for one's children and one claims them on our income tax forms as our 'dependents'. Yet, the university that accepts our payments is prevented by the government that admits they are our 'dependents' to tell parents when their children have problems unless the 'problematic' child gives their consent. Further, if our children exhibit severe mental problems they can not be placed on involuntary medical leave.

This is nonsensical government interference in our lives!

Does anyone disagree? When did I give up these rights with respect to my children?


Peter said...

I agree with the fourth point about bullying. I read a lot recently about this man's time at high school and it appears he was indeed subjected to severe abuse.

Unfortunately, it has reminded me about my own childhood growing up here in Belfast. There was a boy in our school who was physically not athletic. He was always picked last on sports teams and large groans went up when one team had to accept him.

These groanings eventually turned to violence and a group of boys (myself included I am very sad to confess) would periodically decide to give him a thumping. This involved surrounding our fear stricken class mate and then stomach punching him until he fell to the ground.

Today I am ashamed of my behaviour but there is nothing I can do now to make amends. I often wonder if he was able to go on and have a happy life.

Interestingly, when Prince Charles was at Gordonstoun school at his father's insistence to toughen him up he too became the object of extreme bullying. On the sports field his classmates would take every opportunity to "put the boot in" to him. Later in life he commented that this school period was the worst memory of his life. He, of course, had a better support system to recover from this abuse but even as a young adult he was abused in the press because of the shape of his ears.

This bullying culture is now seen in the behavior of English fans at soccer matches.

I think this post has raised some very good points about the Virginia Tech tragedy. But these are things that our societies know about and pay little attention to once the triggering event has passed.

Take care,

Joan Ferguson said...

This is a case of a person who exhibited socialization problems, due either to mental illness or estrangement in a land foreign to him in which he arrived as a child of eight unable to speak the language.

His actions and behavior at Virginia Tech indicate someone who was not reasoning properly and who had lost all rational connections with reality.

Our society is now in the process of demonizing him. He has even been rejected by his grandfather, still living in South Korea, who said that it would have been better never to had him as a child in their family.

I am reminded of a quote that I think comes from St. Augustine:

"God without us will not, as we without God cannot".

What Augustine says to me is that God couldn't help him because those around him in high school and college did not, and those around him may have been "without God" and thus lacking His love and compassion could not help.


Pianoman said...

When Imus was fired for his nappy-headed hos remark our political leaders were mostly silent.

Now they seem to have run for the hills again afraid I presume that the issue of tighter gun control will be brought up.

We have forgotten the loss of life in Iraq - Iraquis and Americans! We are losing the same number of young college age Americans every 10 days or so in Iraq in a war that our politicans either don't want to win or don't know how to win.

Meanwhile the rest of us go on enjoying life - not paying any more taxes to share the burden with those serving in Iraq, not paying any more taxes to provide mental health care programs for the Cho Seung-Huis of the world, not paying any more taxes to help the 20% of the U.S. population that has no medical insurance, etc etc.

As a person having no family member serving in Iraq, in no need of any mental health or medical assistance, and able to buy a new BMW when I want to, I say "What a Wonderful Life!"