Letter to the editor: Without stricter gun laws, tragedies will continue

November 27, 2018

As a former child and adolescent psychiatry fellow at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, I was horrified, in March 2012, when a gunman entered the hospital’s lobby and killed 25-year-old Greensburg native Michael Schaab and injured seven before being killed.

I was devastated in October 2017, when a gunman killed 58 Las Vegas concertgoers and injured hundreds before killing himself.

February’s school shooting in Parkland, Fla., was the “last straw” for me -- 17 people dead, 17 others physically injured before police apprehended the assailant.

As a child psychiatrist treating many children suffering trauma and loss, I felt the need to do something. I attended the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry’s annual legislative conference in Washington, D.C., hoping I could impress upon staff from Sens. Bob Casey’s and Pat Toomey’s offices the need for stricter gun control legislation.

Six months later, learned helplessness is setting in, after the shooting at Tree of Life synagogue in Squirrel Hill.

Perpetrators of this violence are ill and likely sociopathic. Still, mental heath providers are limited in their ability to prevent such violence. Unless Americans do more to keep guns out of the hands of high-risk individuals, these tragedies, sadly, will continue.

Susan Douglas


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