For many rehab is a scary concept. It’s a time for deep introspection and self-discovery; it’s owning up to an imperfect self, and admitting defeat against personal demons. It’s enough to scare the toughest people away.
However, for some, rehab is more than just a good idea—it’s a necessity. Being able to cope going forward is a must. Not just for the afflicted, but for those affected by addicts. Here’s a look at horrific national incidents that might have been avoided, had those who needed rehab, got it.
DATE: April 20, 1999
INCIDENT: School Shooting Spree
HOW REHAB COULD HAVE HELPED: The shooters both needed therapy to deal with their depression and alcohol abuse.
What was supposed to be a uneventful school morning became a national tragedy when two seniors, Eric Harris and Dylan Klybold, walked into their school in Littleton, Colorado and embarked on a massacre.
In their shooting spree, they killed 12 of their classmates and a teacher. The surviving students were scarred for life, and a nation was paralyzed with fear. How could it have happened in their town, at their school, and with their kids?
The assailants were two young kids suffering from social neglect and depression, allegedly. Images of them practicing their massacre have been found, which supports the notion that there was time to rehabilitate them before anything ever happened. What they needed was a healthy way to cope with depression. Rehab could have provided that. Instead, there were guns, aggression, and an entire student body that will never recover.
2. JOHN LENNON’S MURDER
DATE: December 8, 1980
INCIDENT: Mark David Chapman Killed John Lennon
HOW REHAB COULD HAVE HELPED: Chapman has benefited from therapy and abstinence from drugs and alcohol in prison. He may have been rehabilitated if he had sought help before the murder, which would have prevented this tragedy.
John Lennon had spent the better part of two decades being the most beloved singer-songwriter in pop music. From his brilliant work with The Beatles, to his introspective and equally genius work as a solo artist, John Lennon spent his adult life bringing joy to millions, and fighting for social justice.
On December 8, 1980, outside the Dakota hotel in New York City, John Lennon was gunned down by a lone assassin. His assailant was Mark David Chapman, a confused and bitterly depressed fanatic. He was fascinated with J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, and it’s equally unsound main character, Holden Caulfield.
He asked Lennon for an autograph, and proceeded to shoot him four times in the back. Chapman was filled with suicidal thoughts, and had attempted it before. He had even been institutionalized at one point. A long, consistent stay in rehab might have brought a healthier Mark David, and John Lennon might still be alive today. 30 years later, Chapman remains in prison.
3. WACO, TEXAS
DATE: April 19, 1993
INCIDENT: A Cult Went Up in Flames
HOW REHAB COULD HAVE HELPED: The leader, David Koresh, would have benefited, and possibly become a healthy, positive leader, had he been treated for drug abuse and mental issues.
Men in history have had delusions of grandeur. Many thought they were the son of God, but few of them resulted in so many deaths. David Koresh founded the Branch Davidians in the mid 1980’s, believing himself to be the final prophet.
He founded a compound in Waco, Texas in the 1990’s, where he housed followers, children, and a stockpile of firearms. When the ATF attempted to raid his compound, Koresh’s group opened fire on the agents, killing six. The FBI took over, and began a 51-day standoff. When the FBI finally raided and burned down the compound the final death toll was 54 adults and 21 children.
Koresh was allegedly raped and sexually abused throughout his childhood. One has to wonder how things would have been different if he had gotten the help he needed.
4. WONDERLAND MURDERS
DATE: July 1, 1981
INCIDENT: Drug Users Were Murdered
HOW REHAB COULD HAVE HELPED: Both the victims and killer would have benefited from drug rehabilitation, which would have prevented this tragedy.
In Laurel Canyon, California, things got pretty gruesome for a group of four drug addicts and dealers called The Wonderland Gang. After a meeting with Tracy Lind and John Holmes (also known drug addicts) they decided to rob wealthy drug dealer Eddie Nash.
On June 29 they took Nash hostage and robbed him. Later, Nash summoned for Holmes and had him beaten until he gave out the names of the robbers. Two days later the house on Wonderland Avenue was entered, and four of the five people inside were murdered with steel pipes.
Had Holmes not been an addict, would he have led them to Eddie Nash? Had Nash not been an addict himself, would he have been robbed, or sought this type of retribution? And, would these four dead people be alive today had they not been addicts?
5. VIRGINIA TECH MASSACRE
DATE: April 16, 2007
INCIDENT: School Shooting Spree
HOW REHAB COULD HAVE HELPED: Cho needed help with his anxiety disorder, and the alcohol abuse that exacerbated his anxiety.
On Monday, April 16, two separate attacks two hours apart occurred on the campus of Virginia Tech. Gunman Seung-Hui Cho shot and killed 32 people. He wounded a series of others before taking his own life. It currently stands as the deadliest peacetime incident of a single gunman in the history of the United States.
The nation, already familiar with school shootings, mourned the deaths and wondered what could have been done to prevent Cho. The reality is that rehab would have helped. Cho was diagnosed with anxiety disorder years earlier. When he was accused of stalking two women in 2005, Virginia Special Justice declared him mentally ill, and ordered him into treatment.
His mother, a devout person, opted for an exorcism instead. Virginia law at that time had allowed Cho, a person declared mentally unsound, to purchase a handgun. The result is a tragedy that sparked intense debate nationwide about handguns, and has kept most of America from ever feeling safe on a college campus again. That’s a large price to pay for avoiding rehab.
6. JONESTOWN/PEOPLE’S TEMPLE MASSACRE
DATE: November 18, 1978
INCIDENT: A Cult Mass Suicide
HOW REHAB COULD HAVE HELPED: The leader would have benefited from drug, alcohol, and sex addiction therapies.
On November 18th of 1978, the Jonestown Massacre, which is also commonly known as the People’s Temple Massacre of Guyana, left more than 900 people dead. Jim Jones used Kool-Aid to poison the 900 members of his temple, in addition to killing others with weapons.
In addition to the residents of Jonestown, an additional five people were killed in the nearby airstrip, after they had collected testimony from some of the residents who wanted to leave and were not allowed to do so. Included in the airstrip group was Congressman Leo Ryan, the only Congressman ever murdered in the line of duty.
Jim Jones, from Crete, Indiana, began his life much like other men, but with mental illness that encumbered his upbringing. Schoolmates described him as “a really weird kid,” and thought that he was obsessed with religion. Some people believe that his drug and alcohol use exacerbated his illness, leading to the deaths of more than 900 people.
It would not be fair to say that these tragedies would all have been avoided with rehabilitation, but it’s fair to say the odds of preventing them would have been better. Many of these perpetrators admitted to friends and family what they were thinking of doing, and even photographed their “rehearsals.”
These horrific events, from school shootings to high-profile murders, were all committed by men who were not of sound mind. Those people who must fight their own demons cannot do it alone. They must be helped, in order to prevent future tragedies.