Tomorrow is the anniversary of the shootings in Aurora, Colorado.
Untreated schizophrenia seems to have been part of the picture of this awful tragedy, one of the worst mass shootings in American history.
James Holmes, a young man suffering from chronic schizophrenia plotted and proceeded to carry out an attack on innocent movie goers.
According to the Associated Press today,
Twelve people died, 70 were injured, and more than 300 fled into the night and into the arms of loved ones.
A year later, the survivors cannot forget their terror, or the injuries they suffered, or their losses. But they search for meaning, and sometimes find it: the victims whose faith has strengthened; the father who lost his son but found a cause; the couple who believe that the anniversary of a hateful act can be transformed by love.
The Huffington Post updated the story yesterday, recalling these details about shooter James Holmes’ background before the event:
Citing a judge’s gag order and privacy laws, those who know the most about Holmes’ life in Colorado say little. But there were hints along the way that his life had taken a sharp and dangerous turn.
In March 2012, four months before the shootings, he told a classmate “about wanting to kill people … and that he would do so when his life was over,” prosecutors said in a filing.
Prosecutors also said he opened accounts at two dating websites in 2012 and wrote in his profile, “Will you visit me in prison?”
In June, about five weeks before the shootings, a psychiatrist who had been treating Holmes told a campus police officer that Holmes had made “homicidal statements” and threatened her.
Shooting survivors Eugene Han and Kirstin Davis say they have forgiven James E. Holmes, whose defense lawyers acknowledge was the gunman. They intend to “reclaim the date” by getting married tomorrow, the anniversary of the shootings they survived.
Meanwhile, the details remain cloudy. What are the details of James Holmes’ illness, childhood, and were there warning signs that should have been heeded? What if he had been receiving treatment?
Most vitally: Could this have been prevented?
Gun control remains an issue, of course, but so does mental health treatment.
We must not sweep these issues under the table. One year is not enough – no time is ever enough – to recover emotionally from the the results of non-treatment that did not have to happen.