A Monster, Bullied Child or Both?

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.

bleechIn 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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    1. I like that idea! It’s an effective way to measure any changes. It’s great hearing ideas from readers, it helps me assess how readers are engaging with the materials. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts!

      The suicide rate is directly linked to the mental health epidemic as there are a lack of jobs, recreational activities and livelihood in this community. There is a high rate of alcoholism and violence. This may be rooted in the segregation of Aboriginals and residential schools.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I don’t think he is a monster. At the same time, I don’t applaud him for committing those murders. I just feel sorry for him. I am with those community members who say that the problem should be addressed at the root level. Stop bullying people for physical traits they are not responsible for. Provide more mental health care and counselling. I guess we need this in India too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I believe many readers would agree with you Sonia. It’s not easy to address this issue due to its complexity but there are smaller scale changes that we can all make to help the problem. I believe more mental health care and counseling can make a significant change on a global scale. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s kinda ironic that all this action has occurred in and around Jan 27th as that is Bell Let’s Talk day – a day to discuss the implications of mental health and how there is not enough resources to help with mental health. Education is such a huge tool in this issue – understanding and communication there too – however I feel not enough is done to help they youth of today. With the increased popularity of social media – IG, FB and Twitter – more people are able to reach for help, conversely are also more prone to cyber bullying.

    I know TSN has just done a documentary on Rick Rypein – an NHL player who suffered from depression and ultimately committed suicide. Winnipeg and the Winnipeg Jets organization have recently started a mental health initiative titled “project 11” and its primary goal is to help educate young people/youth regarding the rise of mental health and how to help those around. CAMH does a wonderful job regarding rehabilitation and mental health advocacy – its now time for it to trickle down to the masses and especially the youth.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for that well thought out response Rohit! It’s not easy discussing mental health but I think having big organizations and well-known organizations addressing this issue is essential for a paradigm shift.

      Initiatives such as Bell Let’s Talk allow people to discuss mental health in a socially “acceptable” platform without really committing to the cause long – term. There are numerous individuals in my life who have combatted mental health issues and applaud them for overcoming their obstacles but even more because they take initiative to keep discussing the issue even after big companies end their initiatives. We all have to do our part to bring about that change.

      Great points and hope to hear more from you in the future!


  3. I think this is entirely an issue with parenting. When I was a kid if one kid who being made fun of they would tell their parents (which requires a good relationship on that end) and the parents of both kids would talk, and that would usually result the parents of the bully disciplining the kid (without violence of course) which required a good relationship their as well. If either kid needed counseling they could get some.

    I’m sure people advocate for advocate for more restrictions to free speech online using “cyber bullying” as rational or asking for more public programs but I think that puts a financial burden on the greater community when it’s really a failure of the parents involved.


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