Painful Lessons from Santa Barbara


Sadly, we will probably never know for sure what drove Elliot Rodger to injure and kill innocent victims this past Memorial Day weekend in Isla Vista, CA, but the effects have touched beyond the local community.  I was in Santa Barbara this weekend about a mile from this tragedy and heard first hand on the radio that something horrible was happening in the community and it broke my heart.  It reinforced that I need to continue to reach out and share my knowledge of emotional literacy to hopefully contribute to preventing another tradgety like this in the future.

As the story unfolded one thing was very clear and that was at the very least Elliot Rodger had mental health issues that were unresolved.  And that his parents had tried to help their young, adult child deal with his mental health problems.

This reminds me once again how inadequate our support systems are for parents of children with mental health challenges.  Now this isn’t to say the health care providers that were working with Elliot Rodger were not diligently trying to diagnose and treat Elliot Rodger.  But, this does point out once again that there isn’t enough awareness of the necessity for teaching emotional literacy to parents and children or the available resources for ‘how to’ teach it.

Elliot Rodger, by his own admission says he was VERY disappointed early on in his childhood.  His confusion about relationships with others led to massive frustration.  And he was definitely envious of what he perceived everyone else had except himself.  All of these powerful feelings that confused Elliot Rodger were the makings of his eventual anger.

We all wish this horrifying story could and should have been preventable.  But, sadly it wasn’t!  So where do we go from here, how do we heal and what lessons can we learn?

Asking and reaching out is the first step to finding answers. In this case in particular we can look at and listen to Elliot Rodger’s written perspective that he left behind.  His manifesto showed he was rather good at identifying and defining his feelings, BUT the missing piece to his tortured perspective was how to DEAL with the way he was FEELING.  There are of course no guarantees that if he somehow was able to learn the skills to deal with his feelings, that none of this would of happened.  But, with early intervention we know children’s odds are improved for healthy relationships if they learn how to DEAL with their FEELINGS!

Please feel free to contact me for any support you may need dealing with this tragedy.

My heartfelt prayers go out to all the families in this tragedy, including Elliot Rodger’s parents.  My wish would be that everyone’s lesson from this is we need to pay attention to our children’s very real feelings and even more importantly teach them how to DEAL with feelings.  Dr. Ann