January 22nd 2016, left many families in La Loche. Saskatchewan devastated. One this day, a youth male came into La Loche Community School armed with a gun and fired at students and teachers. At first this incident appeared to be a random act but it was later determined to be intentional. The young offender has been charged with four counts of first degree murder, and seven counts of attempted murder and one account of possession of a weapon. Although the rest of Saskatchewan may not know the name of the young offender, whose name cannot be disclosed under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, the community of La Loche will. With only a population of 3,000 people, the community is described as close-knit.
In recent years, bullying is being treated much like a crime, particularly due to the popularity of cyber- bullying. There have been multiple laws put in place to deter youths from bullying. However, some individuals argue, there need to be more efforts put towards helping victims as well.
Stories have been released explaining the young male was relentlessly teased by his peers due to his large ears. The young male’s family argued that the boy was acting out in anger as a result of his own pain. The perpetrators’ family has argued that there is a lack of mental health resources to assist students in schools – an ongoing point of debate for years.
The family also pointed out that the young offender had deliberately chosen not to attack those who had shown him kindness. In fact, the offender vocalized this intention to his captives at the time. Some adults have reflected on their teenage years and empathized with the young offender’s experiences of being relentlessly bullied and desire to lash out; although they do not condone his behavior, they can relate.
Many organizations and groups have advocated for the need for better mental health programs for our youths and adults alike. It has been argued that mental health is too commonly overlooked and the impacts of negative experiences are underestimated. The La Loche community is known to have a high suicide rate. However, there has been little done to address the suicide epidemic. The stigma of discussing mental health at any level can often shut down a conversation before it starts.
Conversely, members of the community are stricken by grief and mourning the death of their young children. Similarly, the parents of the offender are devastated their son will soon be placed in a penitentiary. Contenders argue that the young offender has committed an adult crime and deserves an adult sentence while some community members blame the lack of resources and help.
What do you think ? Do you feel mental health played a large role in this incident?
Do you feel the Canadian government needs to do more for the La Loche community?
Leave your thoughts below.
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