Face of a Killer: Why the Black Community Must Take a Serious Look at Mental Health

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    Finish this sentence for me.  If I had a son, he’d look like? The President said Trayvon.

    “If I had a son he’d look like Aaron Alexis”- that is the new Internet meme. That’s the new hashtag that’s trending on Twitter.  If Obama had a son he’d look like Aaron Alexis.  If Obama had a son he’d look like the shooter.  Or if Obama had a son he’d look and act like Aaron Alexis.

    Immediately after the FBI identified the suspect in yesterday’s shooting in the Navy Yard in D.C. as Aaron Alexis, a young black man, some – some on the political right – jumped on the bandwagon, well, at least on the Internet; online, on Twitter, on Facebook specifically, and began to take glee, not only in the fact that the shooter was black, but that they could make a comparison to the President of the United States.  A funny comparison, a snarky comparison.  But here’s the truth.  Most of the mass shootings in workplaces, in schools, in malls, et cetera, are committed by white men, in overall numbers and in percentages.

    But men of color, as we have begun to know now, are not immune, like Christopher Dorner, remember him?  He went on the shooting spree earlier this year in California killing police officers and innocent civilians and now Aaron Alexis; two men who turned their inner anger and revenge to the people around them.  Black men know, like Don Cornelius, and more recently, actor Lee Thompson Young turned their anger inward and took their lives.

    So here’s something else for you to think about.  These incidents will probably increase if we don’t bring something into the light and discuss it.  And that is mental health among black people, or the converse, which is mental illness, which are taboo subjects in our community.

    When I told my own mother I was dealing with depression some years back, and I was seeing a therapist, she told me I didn’t need a therapist, I needed a preacher.  That was my own mother.  She eventually did come around, she’s my biggest supporter, my biggest ally, my biggest friend now.  And after my step-dad died some years back, she too went to a therapist and she got healthy.  But it took time for even the person who gave birth to me to realize that there are certain things that you cannot pray away.

    Why would we think mental or psychological issues can be prayed or willed away?  A sick mind is no different than a sick body.  Would you pray away a broken arm?  Would you pray away bad eyesight?  Would you pray away cancer, leukemia or diabetes?  No.  You would get it treated by the proper physician while praying at the same time.

    But since we are talking about the Navy shooter here I want to stick with black men for a moment.  According to the Center for Disease Control, from 1980 to 2012 the suicide rate for black males doubled becoming the third leading cause of death for black men between the ages of 15 and 24.  Suicide, depression and other mental illnesses are real in our communities; maybe more so than other communities because of institutional racism, because of overwhelming unemployment and poverty.  We can no longer look at these issues as taboo and something we can power through with God because we’re soldiers.  Even soldiers have post-traumatic stress disorder.

    If we don’t wake up to these realities, that we cannot pray it away, the next time we see a crime on the news, especially a mass shooting, the first question you might ask yourself; is it the usual one?  Oh, no, are they black?  You know you all do it; I hope they’re not black.  It might be the same one that the haters are posing on the Internet.  If Obama had a son would he look like the killer?

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    27 thoughts on “Face of a Killer: Why the Black Community Must Take a Serious Look at Mental Health

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    3. This discussion is just more trash since recently a black woman was killed by some police and folks are still arguing debating about being a good Christian or being a gay male.
      ?? I am quite sure the black woman killed was a Christian.
      During her time of great need did a jesus or god save her from being killed by these kkk,nazi police who killed her.
      When they did it,they forgot to put their kkk sheets, cone nazi arm bands on

      • My Christian belief and hope is that all people are Christians. However, we are full aware that there have been massive ravaging murders all in the name of christianity.
        Whether a person is a Christian/believer, gay, or whatever else, it is not hard to do the right thing.
        As stated earlier, it takes more than just believing, praying and following God’s instructions.

    4. “Some on the political right”.
      First, how does Mr Lemon know the political persuasion of those who posted negativity about the Navy yard shooter in connection with the president? He never informed his readers of how he knew. Was it a Fox employee? Limbaugh, Ingrahm, Coulter? Again how does he know it ALL came from the Right?
      Is it only those on the Right that he believes have negative feelings towards the president? Are there no racists on the left? Maureen Dowd and Joe Klein, Liberals in their own rite; wrote very scathing columns about the president’s leadership on their respective site for their publication. If one was to cut and paste some of their harsher statements and place on their twitter or facebook pages; would Lemon after reading it still believes that it was from the Right?
      For someone who claims to be an objective journalist; he comes across as ignorant, moronic, stupid, gullible, naive, and full of himself.
      Right now, Mr Lemon is NOT a part of the body of Christ or a future citizen of the Kingdom with his gay lifestyle; so while he’s entitled to his opinions; he’s also in no position to offer any advice on faith – none at all.
      I would suggest giving tips on where to find the best gay bars, clubs and bathhouses in New York, DC and Atlanta, would be more his area of expertise.
      Don is an overrated man who has no shame while craving attention. He came out of the closet with his book; it garnered him much attention. He bragged about his CNN producer boyfriend, that got him some attention. When all of that was beginning to wear off with every Tom, Dick and Harrycoming out, Don again became an also ran. So he decided to deride Blacks while praising O’Reilly in order to get more attention. It got him more attention than he ever thought – negatively.
      Don is a Black Anderson Cooper wannabe. But he doesn’t have the accreditation; the charm, the connection, the education, the looks, the colour or the money.
      Go away Sour Lemon, your 15 minutes of fame is just about up.

      • Kiasia, you are a vile, small-minded, hate-mongering bigot. You are going to be in for a big surprise when you do the world the great favor of rattling out the final breath from your putrid, hateful mouth. Enjoy Hell.

    5. This is not about this man not seeking help. He sought help at the Veterans Administration Hospital. The VA was just too stupid that he needed to be hospitalized immediately and consequently the voices he was hearing got the better of him and he went on his rampage. This is about the failure of the VA to adequately address the mental health needs of or veterans.

    6. The arrogant Don Lemon thinks he knows it all. His “not everything you can pray away” is his justification for his homosexuality. He’s an ungodly man, and frankly he can bloviate all he wants, but he’s a troubled man and doesn’t want to admit it. Leaving the natural affection for a woman; man with man doing what is unseamly” is Bible fulfilling with Lemon at the top of that list. He’s full of it, and garners fars more attention than he deserves.

    7. All you Christians on here are full of sh*t. Get off the YT juice – wait a minute, I meant grape juice and seek your ancestral religion. The one that was forced upon you is not working. If the African community worshipped in their original faith then maybe the African community would not have so many issues. The African race is the only race that doesn’t worship their original God.

      We got three or four Christian churches on one city block in the hood and yet they can’t stop the violence or reduce the unemployment rate in the hood.

      • BlackOverWhite,
        Since my God works for me, then I know this is what I must continue to do.
        Obviously, He has not worked for you. Nonetheless, I will continue to pray for you.
        Have a blessed day!

    8. Not all of these killings are carried out by the mentally ill. There is some spooky things at work that causes entire cities (such as Chicago) to be ravaged by violence and senseless killings. I believe in archangels and angels, but I also believe in principalities, dominions, thrones, and other spiritual demons. There are all manner of evil (and good) operating through individuals. Take a close look at your world. The scripture tells us that we wrestle not with flesh (environment) and blood (genetics), but with principalities, powers, rulers of darkness, and spiritual wickedness in high places. Too bad science can’t prove this for you.

    9. Thanks Don. Good article! Mental illness is out of control in this country, and the discussion, and realization of it’s effect on people (is taboo in a lot of camps). It’s a no-brainer; but every one that has committed mass murders have mental issues. Hate to bring up Zimmerman; but from day one I’ve said he has mental issues.

    10. Don has once again stepped over the line. You can pray away anything. Yes, even a broken arm. You can pray that the arm heals healthy. You can pray that the arm heals quickly. You can pray on anything, but Don has not been there yet and so we must pray for him. Lord, allow Don to become aware that you are God Almighty.

      • LOL, wow this post just made me laugh so hard water snorted out of my nose. When it comes to people like you religion really is a drug used to escape reality. The black community needs to embrace real, tangible,measurable solutions for its problems and not keep throwing its hands up in the air expecting rain. After all we’re already so spiritual (certainly more than whites) and yet look how things are turning out.

        • JB: OMG!!! Ditto. “how things are turning out”…I’ve been saying something similar to what you said for years. Yet (some) people keep going down the same (no results) road of prayer. To each his own; but when something isn’t working for me I usually try something different

        • As bad as things are, they’ve been worse (actually things look pretty bad now). We spend way too much time trying to obtain the tangible. We were better off fifty years ago, when seemly we had so much less (materially speaking). We had better love for one another, better communities, and better character. Just look at where we’ve come as a people — even with all of our so called success. Maybe the prayer thing wasn’t such a bad thing after all.

      • Leslie: We all believe what we believe, and that’s that. However we all (also) have red herrings (distractions). If prayer works so well why is unemployment so high, why is there so much violence amongst (SOME) Black people, why is it that (some) black women have prayed for a mate/husband for years….with no one coming forth, why is than still hunger in many parts of the world?? (Some) Black people are among the most god fearing in the world, and yet nothing really changes. Having faith is one thing; having common sense is another.

        • Wow. “Lean not to your own understanding”, “What God has for you is for YOU”, etc. I’m a Christian and I welcome everyone’s beliefs ESPECIALLY when they don’t believe in anything.. but first off, WOW @ prayer alone that a broken arm heals o_O? I hope that was a joke. Smh.

          Don hit it on the head.. we need to use common sense, but myself (as a Christian) also couple that with prayer. I don’t have ALL the answers, but I believe he does. Oh.. and you don’t have that mate yet bc it might not be your calling (mindblown) – you may be missing out on your higher purpose searching for something that isn’t for YOU. Be patient. Have faith. Trust in God (if you’re a believer that is). Ooh ooh ooh and this is kinda funny –> Debate between Athiest and a Christian http://www.upworthy.com/a-debate-between-an-atheist-and-a-christian-has-quite-a-surprising-result?g=2

        • Prayer changes things, but it doesn’t work like some kind of cosmic Santa Claus where you pray and a husband suddenly appears. Certain things will always be carried out: Killings, poverty, sadness, disease, despair etc. Prayer has a way of protecting those that are in the midst of such things. We can’t pray the will of God away or change the path that man has created by a magic wand, no more than a doctor can cure sickness or injury … immediately. There is a healing process, and with God, a time. Furthermore, God is not going to give you something to hurt you, just because you ask for it. Wake up!

      • JB & Joy, I hear what you are saying, but I do agree with Joy “to each his own”. I don’t know the answer to Joy’s questions because I’m not God and I’m not smart enough to know the CORRECT answers. I do believe the bible when it says faith without WORKS is dead. We shouldn’t JUST ONLY pray as Don mentioned. We ALSO must act, do something in support of our cause or mission. I also believe and have seen in my life where people so sick that doctors couldn’t do anything and wrote them off because they had done all they could do. Because people prayed to God (works) in faith, God healed them and NO ONE could explain how it happend. We also shouldn’t put ALL of our confidence and stock in doctors/people in general. We should pray for the mentally ill. We should pray that congress acts and addresses the situation. We have a lot to pray for, because congress is entrusted with coming up with laws to better protect us, we must have them to act.

        • You can definitely pray for the mentally ill, if for no other reason than to create positive morale. I actually do believe that prayer often plays a positive supportive role in the healing process, but when you have problems like this man did, the first thing to do is to make regular visits with a trained therapist who will not only counsel you, but also keep tabs on you. To say, “Oh I’ll just pray it away…” is dangerous.

      • Leslie Brew, John, Walt, & Dtown:
        I could not agree with you more! Prayer DOES work!
        As DTown quoted the scriptures, “faith without WORKS is dead.” We must do BOTH! I have prayed for numerous things in my life and I am here to testify that most – not all – of them have been answered. Not all of my prayers can be answered because as Walt stated, God is not going to give me something to hurt me, but it is all in His time. (I have noticed that sometimes He moves things around by not answering my prayers, but in the end, the results are so much better.)

        When I first became ill, I prayed a little prayer [to God] while on my way to the hospital. After the doctor’s diagnoses, again I conferred with God (The One Who Can And WILL Heal All), and immediately I found peace and consequently, I was mended. My testimony is that if it were not for God, I would not be here today.
        Yes, I believe and I KNOW that God will always intervene in my life, but I also know that He put the doctors, lawyers and others to intervene on His behalf. When my car broke down, I prayed while on my way to the mechanic and when I got there, it was cheaper than what I thought as well as easier to fix [than I thought].

        If someone has a mental illness, he or she should seek psychiatric help. If someone has a broken arm, wrist, ankle etc, they should seek a doctor. Car breaks down etc. However, if the person just went to any old psychiatrist or mechanic without praying, they might not receive the best care/service they could have received had they prayed.

        If anyone doubts what I said or has questions about what God will and will not do, then try reading your Bible (aka Believer’s Instructions Before Leaving Earth.) ANY and EVERY question about life (especially your life) is in there. I am not here to tell anyone how he/she should behave or act in his or her life, but for me – personally – daily prayer and daily bread is TRULY necessary. Each day, I have peace, and I KNOW that I would not have that peace if it were not for prayer. Of course, my life is not perfect, but I continue to pray as it could be much worse.

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