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.