This week the nation has been grieving the terrible tragedy that has unfolded at Chardon High School just outside of Cleveland, Ohio. 17-year-old high school student T.J. Lane opened fire on a group of students Monday morning, leaving three teenagers hospitalized with serious injuries and three teenagers dead.
This incident strikes hard at high schools all around the country, including mine, as something like this could happen at any school.
Though the reasons for Lane's rampage are still unknown, there are a few possible triggers that students, teachers, and parents must be aware of in order to avoid future situations like these.
Tragedies like this can never be predicted, but there are things that we must understand in order to be able to prevent them. In the Chardon High School shooting, prosecutor David Joyce has described Lane as "someone who's not well." It is nearly impossible to imagine the mind of someone who is mentally distressed. Like under any circumstance, we must understand that what lies underneath any person's appearance could be an unsuspecting state of confusion and discomfort.
If it turns out that a factor in the shooting was mental illness, students, teachers, and parents alike must understand the extremes that someone in this condition can experience. I feel that students today, myself included, are not aware of the symptoms of such conditions and fail to understand that mental illness is a disease. By becoming further educated about these psychological states, I hope that we will be able to foster an environment that is more welcoming for all students, and in turn, hopefully prevent further situations like these.
Another lesson to be learned from this tragedy is the importance of taking even the smallest threat seriously. Last December, Lane posted a threatening Facebook status describing his troubles ending it with the words, "Die, all of you."
Though this was months ago, threats like these should not be taken lightly. If his post was properly addressed, this tragedy may have been avoided. If any of us see any threats that could suggest any trouble, we must report it to a parent, teacher, or faculty member, as it could prevent an event such as this one.
What I find even more troubling is that many of my peers and teachers know so little about the Chardon High School shooting. As I said, this could happen anywhere and we must know the extents that these tragedies can rise to. I can't emphasize how important this is and how much this angers me.
I am not saying that having a mental illness could excuse his horrible actions. I am only trying to get across the point that there are indicators that, if addressed, can often help prevent tragedies like this -- and that students, teachers, and parents across the country must be aware of them.
My sentiments echo those of Chardon School District Superintendent Joseph Bergant II, who said, "We're not just any old place, Chardon. This is every place. As you've seen in the past, this can happen anywhere."
This could have happened at any one of our high schools across the nation. We must understand the possible factors that could lead to such an event and strive to make everybody feel welcome all the time. As our society continues to work for equal rights for all, we must not forget those suffering from psychological illnesses. We cannot let this happen again.