Virginia Tech University: Making Sense of What Happened


On April 16, 2007, the tragedy at Virginia Tech University remained a big sear for the hearts of those who were directly involved as well as those affected, such as the victim’s families or friends. On that terrible day, the struggling loss of lives due to one disturbed young man makes many people ask what made Cho act in a beastly manner as he did, and likewise, what can be done to prevent such kind of massacre from happening again. According to Hauser of “The New York Times” newspaper on the day of the tragedy (1), thirty-three people were involved in a mass murder at the university after one of the students: Cho went round the bend to a shooting rampage in a close link to the reports made by federal law enforcement officials at the site. Many of the victims were students shot in classrooms and dorms.

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Main Discussion

Politicians, educators, and editorialists lost no time in commenting on the tragedy, but they arrived at radically different conclusions when it came to addressing the questions arising from an act of this nature. Among them were the following: can we connect the university massacres such as that of Virginia Tech by the lone gunman, to mental illness, depression, or other public related illnesses and thus totally avoid such health-related matters in institutions? Is the enemy within; does it mean we know what is going to happen but wait until it is too late to raise the alarm? Do we need the secret service to inform us that a strategy is due, or how to prevent one, especially in the school setting? Lastly, does it make sense to form strong unity after tragedies or divert from reality through baseless sentiments over tragedies such as that at Virginia Tech?

In a close link to Bower’s writing on “How Not to Respond to Virginia Tech” (1), “mental illness and depression are public health issues,” which have had people holding a lengthy discussion, especially in the majority of the school settings in the aim of reducing or preventing collage and campuses tragedies. The resolutions made by many heads are to keep away those with any related mental conditions or seeking assistance on such related matter with the aim of preventing campus crime.

Consistent with Bower’s report (1), from the reports of “Bazelon Center, a non-profit legal advocacy organization,” various cases on the victimization of students by the university administrations emerge for the reason that they voluntarily seek medical assistance over depression. The responses given by such administrations send the wrong message to students, showing that their sufferings from depression are illegal, and the institutions cannot entertain them.

Reaching out for help is supposedly the right thing for a student to do in the fight against depression-related crimes. The students need help and support in the time of crisis, especially on matters pertaining to illnesses. The campus policies, procedures, or rules are, therefore, a discouragement over students in their quest for help (Bower, 1). With regard to Bower’s comments, like a community setting, campuses require well-equipped facilities or support systems to serve mental health-related problems without victimizing students. Compasses are in a position to control related mental cases in advance if the students have no fear over repercussions. Not all massacres involve serious mental illnesses, thus the need to foster openness and freedom.

According to Bower, the campuses, as well as colleges, are sending negative messages to students and equally preventing them from seeking the right paths due to fear of victimization or permanent negative effects on their future endeavors. Every student attends college or campus to pursue a course as a foundation for future careers. For this reason, no one would wish to engage in situations that may force him or her to quit or face expulsion from the same before completion. This means that even for the extreme cases, the students avoid to come out frankly and denounce such complications, which are medically or psychologically curable.

Would it not be wise for the university administration to encourage voluntary medical treatment of depression other than force students to sit tight on their pressing needs until they cannot persevere further? As a measure to prevent suicide, it is crucial for them to acknowledge the existence of mental health problems as a measure to solve the cases before they happen. Universities give people the power to lead and have future prosperous endeavors. On this note, they shape or determine the societal growth in all measures. By sending people who are suffering from depression away, are the institutions denounces societal performance or enhances running away from their responsibilities?

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According to Henninger (1, 2007), most of the tragedies cause haphazard and harried research regarding their causes and ways of preventing them in the future, for instance, the responses to Hurricane Katrina, the September 11 Attack of the WTC and, the Virginia Tech Massacre. These seem to be inevitable procedures, but as Henninger puts it,the Bremer Report of the National Commission on Terrorism described virtually everything we needed to know about preparing for the kind of attack that occurred in September 2001.”

The Virginia Tech massacre was easily preventable, considering the reports over findings by the Secret service and department of education over the safe school initiative. We are equipped with the facts over findings but fail to use them as required. According to the reports, severely ill persons did not carry out the majority of the 37 shooting attacks in institutions between 1974 and 2007. “Psychological flameouts were, however, indeed present in virtually all the attacks: depression (61%), prior suicidal attempts or thoughts (78%), a sense of loss, feelings of being persecuted or in fact bullied cases” (Henninger, 1, 2007).

The severity of the findings is that most people know or anticipate such situations. “In nearly two-thirds of the incidents, more than one person had information about the attack before its occurrence” (Henninger, 1, 2007). There is a bizarre reaction of students failing to turn up colleagues to authority even when they know the consequences.

The enemy is within, and in most cases, we know the repercussions well in advance before occurrence. Do we need the secret service to inform us that a strategy is due or how to prevent one, especially in the school setting? Consistent with Henninger’s report (1), the teachers and staff are able to stop the majority of the school attacks before they get out of hand. Teachers know that the attacks associate with immoral behaviors such as drug abuse and high risky drinking habits. On one occasion, a teacher was able to detect the probability of an attack through concern over the theme of several poems presented by students.

Why are people willing to look at the status quo of a tragedy keenly, even when the facts pre-exist? As much as we would wish to respect the privacy of an individual, there is a greater responsibility to protect the safety of the people. According to Henninger (1), today, we face jurisprudence and convectional prudence in seeking truth and facts, which seem to the catalyst to attacks other than prevention.

According to Hitchens (1, 2007), many people make insensible utterances after a tragedy such as that at Virginia Tech University. The events seem to trigger people into unrealistic talks and conclusions. Today we form some form of unity grounds at the expense of truth and proof through sloppy and false sentiments. People are insensitive to the serious matters and thus the reason why everyone tries to come out with personal opinions regardless of the consequences. People thus lack the decency over sincere sympathy required for the families or friends who suffer a loss in tragedies such as the one at Virginia Tech University.

Do people try to utilize the top issues to gunner publicity? The appearance of a new story regarding a tragedy is a huge reminder and pain to the victims and their families. Most of these reports are personal opinions and are, therefore, revisions of the tragedies, which lead to incorrect insinuation and implication, especially in the media, possibly as a way of maximizing the profitability or gaining some personal advantage. People connect many negative implications to such massacres. For instance, in the case of Virginia Tech, the word that the administration failed or bared communication of the first shooting to parents was baseless since some students had communication with parents on the issue first shooting before the occurrence of the second and most severe shooting.

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April 16, 2007, tragedy continues to trigger various personal opinions and research findings to date. In close relation to this paper, it is not possible to directly connect such university massacres to mental illness or depression and thus work towards the total elimination of such health-related matters in high learning institutions. The enemy is within and, in most cases, made of the people of the institution as a whole. Most people know what is going to happen before it does, but wait until it is too late to raise the alarm. This means that universities rarely need the secret service team to research and report findings regarding such tragedies.

People have all the required facts in advance to prevent tragedies from occurring, especially in the institution setting, but we fail because we are busy trying to form strong unity after tragedies or divert from reality through baseless sentiments over them. We can only stop inquiring ways of preventing such scenarios or why they occur if we realize that all the requirements for prevention are within reach. There is a need for commitment over the facts and full transparency concerning logical understanding. The universities need to be at the forefront in ensuring they are well equipped with the required facilities to handle health related matters.

This may include the student’s counseling centers, mental health programs or support groups, procedures for making referrals and, emergency psychiatric services to encourage students to seek and share feelings before they are out of hand.

Work Cited:

Bower, Karen. “How Not to Respond to Virginia Tech.” Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law. 2007. Web.

Hauser, Christine. “Virginia Tech Shooting.” The New York Times. 2007. Web.

Henninger, Daniel. “Blacksburg’s Silver Lining: Maybe this time the status quo will change.” The Opinion Journal. Web.

Hitchens, Christopher. “Suck It UpAfter the shootings came an orgy of mawkishness, sloppiness and false sentiment.” Slate Journal Tuesday, 2007. Web.

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