Eugene Paslov: Death threats are a serious matter
Sheriff Kenny Furlong deserves praise for his thoughtful attention to a death threat made to the staff at the Democratic Party Office in Carson City. Death threats are serious business; and although the Democratic office staffs’ initial contact with the department was not satisfactory, once Sheriff Furlong got personally involved, the situation improved quickly.
Without too much detail about who did or didn’t do what about the death threat, we all now have a better understanding about how to deal with threats. By the way, these death threats impact both Democrats and Republicans and some have nothing to do with politics. They are all taken seriously. The sheriff was clear and his explanations helpful.
The particular death threat made to the Democratic office staff came from a “blocked caller number,” and the man who called was obviously unbalanced and deranged. He attacked President Obama with vile racial slurs. He laced his vitriolic diatribe with mindless obscenities. Apparently he thought someone was going to take his guns away. He ranted and raved; but he’s still out there, dangerous and presumably armed.
Regardless of one’s views on gun control and/or Second Amendment interpretations, there are some issues with which we all need to be concerned. There are people in our community who need help, who are mentally deranged, and from whom we all need protection.
However, during this period of fiscal distress we are likely to suffer reductions in professional mental health services. It’s a sad reality, but it is real. This means that individuals, friends, co-workers, and family, both immediate and extended, must take more responsibility for helping those they know are having mental difficulties. I don’t want to take this line of reasoning too far. This is not to suggest that we try to be mental health specialists. Disastrous. But sometimes family, friends or co-workers can reach out a soothing hand, provide direction for someone they know well who is demonstrably unstable. Friendship and a helping hand can be powerful tools.
One tragic lesson of the Tucson shooting of Congresswoman Giffords is that the shooter’s family, classmates, college faculty and security personnel all knew there was a mental health problem. Jerrod Loughner’s fellow students and faculty got him out of the classroom; the security police expelled him from campus; he lived at home but his parents appeared isolated and didn’t know what to do. Apparently family, friends, and co-workers never talked with each other or reached out a hand that might have put Mr. Loughner in the care of mental health specialists.
It’s a sad commentary that we don’t help the mentally unbalanced. As a community, we need to do better.
• Eugene Paslov is a board member of the Davidson Academy at the University of Nevada, Reno and the former Nevada state superintendent of schools.