Obama talked about how families are still mourning. “One year after the tragedy at Virginia Tech, families are still mourning, and our nation is still healing. As Americans gather today in vigils and ‘lie-ins’ – or pray silently alone – our thoughts are with those whose lives were forever changed by the shootings.”
McCain offered his prayers, and talked about how the shootings remain inconceivable. “On this day, Cindy and I join with all the students, faculty, friends and family of the Virginia Tech community in remembering those who were taken from this life too early. Even after a year, the tragic events at Virginia Tech remain inconceivable. Words cannot describe the sadness that affected all Americans on that day and ever since. As parents ourselves, Cindy and I would like to extend our prayers to all those remembering the loss of a loved one today.”
Obama went a step beyond sympathy and mentioned the need to end this type of violence, “But one year later, it’s also time to reflect on how violence – whether on campuses like Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois University or on the streets of Chicago and cities across this nation -can be prevented. Clearly, our state and federal governments have to strengthen some laws and do a better job enforcing others. But we all have a responsibility to do what we can in our own lives and communities to end this kind of senseless violence. That is still our task one year later, and it will be our ongoing task in the years to come.”
It would be a wonderful world if we could find a way to determine which mentally ill people might snap and go on a shooting spree, but that will never happen. I don’t think that we shouldn’t try to avert incidents such as Virginia Tech, however there is very little that we can do to stop one troubled person before they act. What we can do as a society is be more acute to the needs of the mentally ill.
We can provide better healthcare and treatment. We can educate people and institutions about the warning signs, but unless an individual is under supervised care, it is their responsibility to take their medication or get the help they need. The government can make services more accessible, but the final responsibility comes down to the individual.
The situation at VT was a little different because people at the school saw the warning signs in Seung-Hui Cho, but somehow he slipped through their system. If we as a nation want to reduce this kind of violence, then we must make a commitment to help individuals before their condition deteriorates to the point where this type of violence seems like their only option.