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Chardon's school shooting: Not just any hometown, but mine

February 27, 2012
by Dennis Grantham, Editor-in-Chief
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Deep down, all of us know but never really believe, that a school shooting could happen in our hometown, too.
The county courthouse in Chardon, Ohio

Just 12 months ago, I wrote an editorial in this magazine about the awful shooting at a shopping center in Tucson and its aftermath.  Following the memorial service for those victims, I wondered about the expectations of Tucson's youngest victim, Christina Taylor Green, after she was memorialized by President Obama and I asked, "Can we be as good as Christina imagined?" And, I wondered about what Tuscson's tragedy said about the tragic state of mental health care in the United States.  

Today, I'm writing another piece about a similar tragedy in place that I know very well: Chardon, Ohio. This morning, my hometown--whose neat, maple-lined streets offered a boyhood memory that I briefly recalled in another editorial for the November/December issue--was the scene of another deadly gun tragedy. This time, it took place at Chardon High School, in halls where I along with many siblings, relatives, and countless friends and acquaintances have walked as students since the 1950s.  

This morning, I saw the statements given by local law-enforcement officers whom I recognized and remembered from youth. I recognized school officials who served on the Board of Education with my dad. And, I need only the briefest thought to recall the names of many people, who as current Chardon residents, shared the awful urgency of events as they rushed to be with their children or grandchildren today.  

While I am the first to say that I have no facts about the young people involved, except that one is dead and four others injured, I know that they, and even the alleged gunman, are in good and caring hands. I know that because today, I found myself wondering, if just for a moment, "Are the people of Chardon, Ohio really as good as I imagined and remembered?"  And, within that moment, I knew the answer was "Yes."

Soon, Behavioral Healthcare will follow up on this tragic story to learn more about how behavioral and mental health health resources in Northern Ohio are responding to this event, what they knew or learned about the young people involved, and what they can teach to all of us who always knew, but never really thought, that this could happen in their hometown, too. 

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Comments

Thank you for sharing your insights and reaction, Dennis. Our thoughts at Community Partnership of Southern Arizona (CPSA) are with the victims, their families, you and everyone impacted by what happened in Chardon. I was struck by the parallels you drew between Tucson’s shootings and the questions you posed. Certainly, there is much information that we don’t yet know, but if CPSA can be of any help to any individual or agency helping Chardon to heal after this tragic event, we’re happy to provide what advice or other assistance we can.

As the Regional Behavioral Health Authority in Pima County, Ariz., CPSA was designated by the state of Arizona to attend to the behavioral health needs of the Tucson community after the January 8, 2011 shootings. Several members of our executive team authored a piece for Behavioral Healthcare Magazine titled, “Mobilizing in a mental health crisis,” (http://www.behavioral.net/article/mobilizing-mental-health-crisis) that shared many of our lessons learned. We’re always happy to share what we can about CPSA and Tucson’s experiences in healing after such a high-profile, tragic event.

For anyone in the Chardon community or anyone interested in communities recovering from a crisis, please don’t hesitate to contact us at communicate@cpsa-rbha.org if there’s anything else we can share or some way we can help.

Greg Taylor
Chief Community and Public Relations Officer
Community Partnership of Southern Arizona

I would greatly welcome any information you all feel could shed some light on understanding this great tragedy. I am currently researching the increased violence we as a society are facing from those who feel they have been dismissed or bullied. I'm not sure if it is a technological mindset that implies that the future is hopeless or that death is not permanent. Something has changed and something needs to be done. We can no longer sit by and project that this happens to someone else.

Dennis thank you so much for your insights about lack of mental health care in our country.
I think that if we spent as much money on mental health, as our prison system perhaps Columbine, Tucson and now Chardon could of been avoided I guess we'll never know.

Thank You for your work.

Laura Freeze Chardon High 1977

Very nice piece, Dennis.

Let's hope we can all be as "good as Christina imagined".

Sincerely,

Kim Beauregard
CEO, InterCommunity, Inc.
281 Main St
East Hartford CT 06118

Dennis Grantham

Dennis Grantham

@BH_dgrantham

www.behavioral.net