News of more violence directed at school children is making me hate the world and everything in it. More importantly, it is making it gravely obvious that there are many places in the world where mental health issues are not being addressed and dealt with. Yesterday, in addition to the horrific events that happened at Sandy Hook Elementary, there was another violent spree at a school – a half a world away. Twenty-two children between the ages of six and eleven were attacked by a knife-wielding, 36-year-old man in central China.
“The attack took place at the entrance to the Chenpeng Village Primary School in Henan province, according to the public information department of Guangshan county, the area where the school is located,” CNN reports. Several of the children are in critical condition. One adult was also wounded.
The news may sound disturbingly familiar. You may remember that China was hit with a spree of knife and cleaver attacks – many on schoolchildren – in 2010. There were a series of six attacks reported that year, which left 17 dead and dozens injured. All assaults were carried out by middle-aged men who acted alone. Three of the assailants had known mental health problems. The attacks sparked a nationwide conversation about the state of mental health care in China. It also led the Chinese government to step up security in schools.
So it’s not just the United States that is sorely in need of a conversation about the state of mental health care. We are all on varying sides of the gun control debate, but this seems to be an issue that we can all agree on. We need more outreach and support for families and individuals dealing with mental health issues. It is becoming increasingly clear that these “private” mental health problems have evolved into dangerous public health issues.