DUBLIN, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) - Most of the country is quick to jump on either side of the gun control argument, but with the recent reports that Connecticut shooter Adam Lanza had been suffering from a mental illness, it seems there's a bigger problem on our hands.
Friday's shooting in Connecticut has brought about a new debate.
"This is going to re-ignite the gun debate, and I think it should also re-ignite the mental health debate," says Dr. Jerry Daniel, a forensic social worker and college professor. "There has been since probably maybe the 50s or the 60s, there's been always an issue or more of a prominent issue on mental illness and behaviors."
"We swung the pendulum too far in the other direction when we said we don't need to institutionalize people who have mental health issues," says superintendent of Dublin City Schools, Dr. Chuck Ledbetter. "There's some truth to that, but there's also some cases--just like if you're very sick--you need to be in the hospital. If I have a bad infection, I need to be in the hospital, but that doesn't mean I need to be in the hospital for everything."
As a country, we've put mental health issues on the back burner as of late, but identifying a problem starts at home.
"The first thing is understanding what is mental illness and the different types of disorders and looking for signs and certain behaviors of how your children may be behaving," says Daniel, "and basically referring those kids to some type of mental health professional or their primary care physician."
"The big thing is that students get the help that they need and people get the help that they need outside," says Ledbetter. "(Because) this is a situation where you had somebody who was no longer a student but a young adult who didn't get the help that he needed, apparently."
In order to prevent a similar disaster across the nation or right here in middle Georgia, Daniel says the time to take action is now.
"This is something that we've got to take a real close look at," says Daniel. "And not just debate it, but actually engage in some real action to move forward so that we can try to prevent things like this from happening again."
Ledbetter tells 41NBC Dublin City Schools does have a plan in place in case disaster strikes, but he wouldn't give out the details due to safety concerns. He also says teachers and counselors have special training on how to deal with students with mental health problems.