Gray areas get lost in black and white
Like many stories involving arrests and crime, there's more to this one than the big headline and shock value details that were included in the article.
But often, it's impossible to get at the gray areas or background of a story like that. Family problems that spill into the news are traumatic or embarrassing enough. While the subject of these kinds of stories, or their family and friends, are outraged that it made it into the paper, and in the manner it did, there's typically little appetite for extending the story another day by helping a reporter flesh out how things got to this point of chaos.
The best-read stories about crime are those with the most bizarre, funny or shocking details, but most people, including us at the newspaper, lose sight of the fact that mental illness is often at the root of the incidents that lead to these types of stories.
Living with mental illness, or living with a family member or friend who is caught in its grip, is a serious, sometimes tragic, issue that makes enjoyment of a good bizarre crime story seem cheap and inappropriate.
I don't have many answers on this one, but do believe it's worth, from time to time, to stop and think about the human side of these types of stories.
And it's important for all to know that there are resources out there to educate the unaware and support those who are all too aware of the nightmare that mental illness can cause for a family.
Litchfield County, in fact, has its own chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and that's as good a place as any to start. CLICK HERE for a link to NAMI's Connecticut-based resources and information.