Politics

'I Am Adam Lanza's Mother' blogger sparks mental health discussion

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A memorial was set up for those who died in the Sandy Hook shooting with candles and flowers on Dec. 16, 2012. The majority who died were children. (Photo courtesy of VOA via Wikimedia Commons).

Gun control measures are getting a lot of air time in the wake of Friday mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

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But as important, if not moreso, is the question of access to mental health services. And one mother sees this as an opportunity to find meaningful solutions.

Liza Long, mother and writer of 'The Anarchist Soccer Mom' blog, says for her, whenever a mass shooting takes place she thinks about her son.  

"I'm living with a son who can be unpredictably violent and like a lot of Americans that can be a scary situation to live in. The blog post really kind of came out of that emotion the visceral reaction to that horrible tragic shooting," she said.

Though it's still unknown the exact circumstance Adam Lanza's mother faced, Long said she understands the struggle — which is what motivated her blog post.

"I have to stress, mothers love their sons, and I think that's the point that I was trying to make," she said. "When you're struggling with behavioral issues with a child it's very difficult in this society to find the help that you need."

Long said in her son's case, her options have been court and the criminal justice system as a solution. But, she says her son is a child with special needs, not a child who belongs in juvenile detention — and people need to begin to understand the difference.

"I feel like in our society it's just not acceptable to talk about these things. You're seen as a bad parent," she said. "It's time that we start talking about these issues. There are a lot of people struggling with the same thing that I’ve been struggling with." 

But for people who saw her blog post, some wondered if by comparing her son to Lanza, Long believed her son would grow up and be a mass shooter. Long says that wasn't the point she was trying to make.

"I expect for my son and hope for my son the same thing that any parent hopes for their child; which is that he will grow up and be a happy and productive member of society. But what I was saying is I need some help with that. And I don't feel like we acknowledge or even provide the resources that we need to," she said.

Regarding the issue of Lanza's mother owning firearms, Long said having the child she has, she would never own a firearm.

"I think that's just a responsibility issue," she said

Reactions on her blog have been both positive and negative. With both, Long says dialogue is important.

Blogger Sarah Kendzior, however, thinks Long stepped over a line. She says Long’s use of her son's story damaged his privacy and reputation.

Long said soon after publishing, she realized the blog she thought was anonymous, wasn't. But after talking to her son, currently in an in-patient facility, he saw this as an opportunity to help people. 

"I'd like to focus on the positives on being able to start a dialogue that's just been very powerful for me. Being able to read other people's experiences. Have other people say 'you've described my son, you've described my pain, you've described my fears,' that was really my goal," she said.

Long said the events that took place in Newtown made her sick — and she wants these kinds of tragedies to stop. 

"I'm heartsick for those families and wish them nothing but peace. It's just a heartbreaking situation and I think many people have said it's happened too many times in this country. Like I said in my blog post I don't know what the solution is, I just know we need to start talking and find some meaningful solutions." she said.