Like many of us in Rappahannock, I am a (multiple) gun owner. Like many gun owners, I am glad to see that the event at Sandy Hook is starting a national discussion on gun control. In my personal opinion, it is too easy to get assault weapons and mutilating ammunition, and I would welcome some limitations.
Nevertheless, I do not think that gun control would have stopped the Sandy Hook tragedy, nor the Virginia Tech tragedy. To stop future incidents like these, we also must look at the difficulty in identifying and treating mental illnesses.
In Rappahannock County, our total annual outlay to Rappahannock Rapidan Community Services, which provides services on behalf of local governments, is about $41,000 ($5.58 per person). That pays for senior citizen services, substance abuse, homes for intellectually disabled persons, and, with what’s left over, mental services for adults and children.
To put this in perspective, at the current level of funding, if a Rappahannock teenager were to call to talk about depression, it would be five weeks before he could get an appointment with a counselor; for an adult, the wait is more than three months. Not much help there.
We’re not the only county that places low priority on mental health issues. But this is our county, the one we are responsible for. It’s time for us to treat this issue seriously, review the options available to us and work on fixing it.