Legends Report - Inspirational News

Depression or ISIS - Which One Is Creating Radical Extremists?

By Jairaj Singh, Associate Partner, Lighthouse International

In July 2016 another mass shooting occurred in Munich, Germany. 9 people were confirmed killed and more wounded. Since then there have been multiple terrorist attacks all over Europe with London and Manchester being the most recent. The Independent reported that video footage of the Munich shooting showed the "shy young 18-year-old" saying he was:

"Bullied for seven years" before saying "and now I have to buy a weapon and shoot you all."

The papers are full of the next "terror" attack when there are no confirmed terrorist links and fear is palpably rising in Western Europe. Politicians and understandably worried citizens all over the world are demanding action, tough stances and swift punishment for the people who carry out these acts.

There's just one problem to this strategy- are we are dealing with the problem at the root as things seem to be getting worse? Why are people willing to take a gun and shoot innocent people in a shopping mall? Why are police officers in the US shooting unarmed innocent black people? Why do a minority of young people leaving the UK to go and fight in the Middle East? The answer is not simple to solve and there are many complex factors, but studies have shown that the root cause is most likely mental health.

A friend of mine said today that "you just don't get happy and healthy people taking up arms and killing people". It's the people with deep underlying issues who are more susceptible to kill others, it's been like that through the ages yet we seem to be slow to learn that as human beings. We seem as human beings to need an enemy to blame or attack, because saying the root issue is the mental health and depression of our young people means that we have to find a solution to that, and that is much much more difficult than firing missiles.

A report, 2 years ago by Queen Mary University in London, found those at risk of radicalisation - such as those who have left the UK to fight with Islamic State in Iraq and Syria - are more likely to have depression and be socially isolated than other people with similar backgrounds.

The Guardian reported in May 2016 that:

"Half of all people feared to be at risk of terrorist sympathies may have mental health or psychological problems, a police study has found. 

It is a problem that has been perplexing officials and experts since the modern age of terrorism began in 2001.

Chief constable Simon Cole, who is in charge of the Prevent programme, which aims to stop people supporting terrorism, said: “There would appear to be, from the work we have been doing, a link to people who are vulnerable around mental health.”"

We live in an age when the biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK is suicide. The disaffected and most marginalised in society have always been the ones who commit the most crime. Dealing with threats from radical groups like ISIS is essential and stopping their fighting capability is paramount, yet we must ask ourselves are we addressing the root cause of it and so many other problems we face as a society? What can we also do to support the mental health of our young people and adults alike? Societal and family breakdown is where so many of the root causes of our problems lie, as legendary author Stephen R. Covey said.

Kamaldeep Bhui, professor of cultural psychiatry and epidemiology at Queen Mary University, confirmed that:

"As a nation, we spend a great deal of time, effort and money on counter-terrorism – but virtually no attention is given to preventing radicalisation before it has a chance to take hold.

"We believe strongly in a public health approach, where those at risk of radicalisation are identified and helped, rather than focussing solely on rare and unpredictable terrorist events after they’ve happened."


So what can I do about it when I'm just one person you may ask?

We can all stand up and say "governments need to do more" but that absolves us of our own responsibility even if it's easier to do.

Legends don't wait for change to happen, they stand up and are counted by taking action themselves. True legends get to the root of situations rather than just dealing with the leaves. Nelson Mandela united South Africa because he saw the need to deal with the root causes of apartheid. The 1994 Rugby World Cup was a powerful tool he used to unite black and white behind the South African "Springboks". It broke down barriers of how people perceived each other.

Each of us, in our own lives, can change this, even if that is just with us and our own families. Do we want to look at our fellow human beings and fear them for whatever reason or do we want to do our best to be understanding, kind and compassionate?

Our own mental and emotional health is one of the most important things we can work on in our lives, you just need to browse this site to see how seriously legends take it.

Mentorship, support and the right guidance. These are fundamental things to ensure our young people are supported and don't fall prey to ideologies which preach hate and terror. I was one of those young people who albeit in a small way rebelled against society, education and the establishment. Had I not been mentored and supported to work through the issues I held from my childhood, I don't know whether the road I would have gone down in life wouldn't have been a destructive one. Now, I work every day to do my best to ensure other young people receive the same.

It is a cliché, but it really is true, change starts with ourselves, change in our families, our communities and our countries.

So I choose to use the recent terror attacks in Europe to deepen my resolve to be kinder in my own life and a bit less judgmental. To seek to understand the root causes and work harder to ensure adults, families and young people get the support we all so desperately need.

What do you choose to do about it?

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