Tragedies Should Spark Action

JULIAN WYLLIE | Columnist

I work as a counselor at a Jewish Community Center in Indianapolis

Recently, there was a shooting at an affiliate in Kansas City. The suspect charged with the heinous crime is Frazier Glenn Miller.

In light of the recent shooting, the center I work for had to act.

We ran an emergency drill last Friday. The goal was to make sure counselors could act quickly and make sure every child was escorted to a safer area.

The drill succeeded, but I still have my concerns.

Why wasn’t this done before? Why does it take tragedy to correct inefficiencies? Why do we wait until a disaster to unite as a community?

The actions at the Jewish Community Center is just one of many examples.

Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy displaced thousands.

Sandy Hook, Aurora, Columbine and Virginia Tech are all locations of U.S. mass shootings. Dozens people died in the shootings, and many more were injured between the four areas.

April 15 marks the one-year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing, and the Oklahoma City bombing is closing in on its 20th anniversary.

During this time, people will unite, protest and share the common pain that death and destruction brings.

But will it move us to adopt preventative measures? I doubt it.

As a native New Yorker, I remember 9/11 very well.

I was seven years old at the time. I vividly remember my mother picking me up early from school. The fear in her face told me everything.

I could see the giant smoke cloud covering the towers from my side of Brooklyn. I cannot imagine what the scene must have been like for the people around Lower Manhattan.

I do not want to imagine the scene for people trapped within the towers.

In 1993, a bomb in the parking garage of the World Trade Center’s North Tower was detonated, killing six and injuring more than 1,000, according to the New York Times.

The 1993 attack exposed vulnerabilities that would later be exploited again eight and a half years later.

We tend to think of tragedy as school shootings, terrorist attacks and natural disasters.

But there are hundreds of tragedies each day.

In 2012, there were 228 alcohol-related driving fatalities in Indiana, according to the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility. Twenty-two of the deaths were drivers under the age of 21.

Personally, I do not know anyone who has died related to drunk driving. I hope I never do.

Every 14 minutes, one person dies by suicide in America, according to the Indiana State Department of Health.

The study adds that suicide is the third leading cause of death among young adults ages 15-24.

I graduated from Pike High School in 2012. A fellow student committed suicide that year.

Like most tragedies, the event sparked awareness within our community about the issue.

I’m happy that her friends and many other students have kept her memory alive.

But what can we do to prevent a recurrence of this tragedy?

The key is to not forget. Once we forget, we fail.

As a society, we tend to raise awareness after the damage has already been done.

Make no mistake. These very real issues and they are happening in a community near you.

Do not wait to act. If you do, it may be too late.

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