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It’s time to talk about mental illness

Every American should pause for a moment and reflect on the events Sunday at a small church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.

We should think about the victims, many of them small children. We should think about the mothers, fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers who were among the 26 people shot when a deranged gunman entered a church and began indiscriminately killing people.

Then we need to consider just how easily this could happen to one of us. The increased frequency at which such crimes are occurring is alarming.

After such tragedies, the normal pro-gun, anti-gun factions will come out of the woodwork pleading their cases. But while they are both correct that our nation has a problem that it must confront, the problem revealed so clearly in the Texas shooting is not the gun, but access to rearms by someone with a history of violence and mental illness.

For far too long Americans have tried to be polite in the face of possible mental illness, but such looking the other way can, as we’ve learned, have deadly consequences.

Let’s mourn the souls of those slain in Texas, but let’s also realize the only way for this string of violence to change is if enough Americans stand up and alert authorities when friends, relatives or acquaintances begin to show signs of potential mental illness.

Our society must also work on investing in more treatment programs and facilities to provide families with options for loved ones who are struggling with mental illness.

— Natchez Democrat