More sad news from Europe’s most violent country: another shooting took place in Finland this weekend. An 18-year old man took random shots at people in Hyvinkää, a small town less than an hour’s drive from Helsinki. 2 young people were killed instantly and 7 more were severely injured and are still at hospital.
Once again, nobody knew anything, nobody saw it coming and we’re all equally surprised. Or are we? In this case, as well as in previous ones, I’ve found it extremely hard to believe that this kind of behaviour comes out of the blue. Of course there’s been signs and sorrows preceding a person’s decision to commit such a desperate act. In retrospect we’ve learned that many of these killers have isolated themselves in their homes; they’ve had issues at school and few (if any) close friends. But for various reasons people involved (family, school personnel and social workers) have chosen not to act on them. Why?
I know that being a parent is the hardest task there is. But I also know that if one of my kids started behaving out-of-character, isolating themselves, playing computer games for hours on end or living their life solely on the internet, I’d act. I’d do whatever stands in my power to help them and I’d start by pulling the plug on that internet connection and ditching the computer. After all, how many of these troubled teenagers still living at home make enough money of their own to pay for one?
Also, as a parent, I would never ever in a million years store guns in my house and I seriously question the sanity of people who do. You can tell me a million times that gun shooting or hunting is “a nice hobby” and I couldn’t care less. Guns kill people – that’s the final word. What’s the point of “strict regulations” like requirements to store these firearms behind lock and key, when it seems that getting through those locks is easy enough for anyone. Reportedly the Hyvinkää shooter got his gun from his parent’s gun cabinet (what a hideous word-combo!), which was appropriately locked – according to the police. Well, that sure makes me wonder where they kept the keys – on the kitchen table?
Still, the sad truth is that even if the parent’s did what they could, most of these troubled violators would still need outside help, and getting that from the Finnish health-care system is probably not an easy task. Queuing for months on end to see a doctor at some health center just to be sent home with a can of anti-depressives is not the answer.
Another problem comes from legislation: no matter how troubled your child is, if they’ve turned 18, there’s not much parents can do. That makes reacting in time all the more important. Society has a huge responsibility: if parents can’t or won’t help their child, surely it’s society’s duty to do so? Apparently that’s where we’ve failed – and keep failing.