Sandy Hook shooting brings mental illness to forefront

Gun control and mental illness are now two topics that are being tossed around a lot after what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

Rumors have circulated about the 20-year-old gunman Adam Lanza. Police say Lanza gunned down 20 children and 6 school faculty members last Friday.

Lanza's mental state has come into question. Did he have autism? Did he have some sort of other mental illness that results in violent behavior? We may never know that.

What we do know is that people are talking a lot about children with mental illness, and what its like to be their parents.

Diane Flashnick works for a Midlands group that connects parents of children with mental illness with resources to help. It's not always the most high profile of jobs.

"We've been talking about this for years and constantly people say, 'Federation of Families of South Sarolina? Never heard of that organization.' It's like, we're out there," said Flashnick.

Flashnick says their is shame when it comes to mental illness particularly when there is violent behavior. She says often parents have to see their children taken to jail or they may have to take them to the hospital.

"Usually when parents begin to think something is going on is when their child is having problems in school," said Flashnick.

She says they deal with parents who are dealing with anything from ADHD to bipolar disorderm and that there is hope.

"Early diagnosis is key factor in parents being able to know what's going on with their child," said Flashnick. "Begin to get resources that will give them the tools they need and treatment options that are available and help them navigate the system."

It's a system she admits is tricky, but it's a system full of people with good kids and bad problems and a network of support.

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