Update on School Shootings, Terrell Owens
> 10/2/2006 2:03:17 PM

Two of last week's most compelling stories have spilled into a new line on the calendar. The first of these was the school shootings of which there were two last week: one in Colorado and one in Wisconsin. Today, a third school was turned into a scene of horrific violence when a 32-year-old truck driver entered an Amish school in Paradise, PA, and killed at least three girls before killing himself.

Police have only begun releasing information, but the apparent perpetrator had no connection to the school or the Amish community. After releasing all the boys in the school along with the adult women, the suspect, Charles Roberts, phoned his wife and told her he "couldn't go on any more" and that he was getting revenge for something that happened 20 years ago.

This is new violence at a school different in almost every discernable way from many of the others, but it is another example of a school in the crosshairs. While only time and further investigation will reveal the extent of Mr. Roberts's troubles and motives, he made a conscious decision to enter a place of learning and do harm. Coming only days after a Colorado man took hostages in a high school, one cannot help but draw comparisons and question whether one mentally unhealthy man's actions may have, at some level, inspired another unhealthy man to act. This most recent tragedy, the deadliest of the three, only reaffirms the need to focus on safety in a proactive way, removing schools from their current position of acceptable venues for violence.

The other big story last week was the reported attempted suicide of Cowboys wide receiver Terrell Owens. We posted before Owens's release from the hospital and press conference in which he and his publicist made strenuous denials about his behavior, but nothing that has happened in the intervening time has really changed our initial interpretations. Although the police continue to stand by their work and initial report, the hospitalization went down in the books as an accidental overdose.

Owens played football this Sunday, but there was an almost eerie silence on the event. Some have continued to ask questions, the answers however, appear as though they will be more elusive. Two points really need to be made. First of all, Owens needs to be receiving treatment. A personal trainer of Owens's revealed that the player's fiance had recently broken off their engagement, and that the star had been having problems with his family. Combine that with an injury that limited his ability to perform his highly stressful job, and it wouldn't matter if we were talking about a football player or a lawyer or a pizza delivery man, stress and anxiety would be taking their toll.

The second point comes directly out of Owens's press conference last week. When asked about Owens's depression, Kim Etheridge, his publicist and the woman who initially called the police, stated that Owens had "25 million reasons NOT to kill himself." Her statement referred to the football player's $25 million contract and displayed an almost mind-boggling ignorance to the realities of mental illness. Depression is a disease, and it can strike the rich just as it can strike the poor. If that is her real belief, perhaps she should seek a little education on mental health before representing any more high priced athletes--for their sake.

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