Early Monday morning gunfire disrupted the normally-quiet neighborhood of West University. Bullets pierced windshields, leaving nine people injured as they were just starting the week.But what caused Nathan DeSai, an accomplished attorney and University of Tulsa Law School graduate, to snap and cause officers to end his life and forever change the lives of people he didn’t even know?
Dr. Matthew Stanford is a clinical psychologist who studies the brain and violence. He says DeSai may have just needed to talk to someone.
“There needed to be a place for him to go without shame, without stigma, that was easily accessible, where he could talk to somebody and begin to deescalate this situation and this would have never happened,” said Dr. Stanford. He also says the stigma around mental illness often leaves people who are in mental distress isolated and afraid to seek help.
“We stigmatize mental health issues so much, just the idea, if I told you to go down and talk to the counselor because you seem distressed…we stigmatize mental health and that really does keep people from getting care,” says Dr. Stanford. He adds that we have to be the eyes and ears for our loved ones and learn to recognize signs and symptoms that may be pleas for help.
“Early on, this is probably just a stressful situation thousands of other people got over this year, but when it’s able to gestate in the dark and time goes by and then it builds and builds and builds, then it’s this type of event that occurs,” explains Dr. Stanford. “This was a very average individual that most people like, this could happen anywhere to anyone…It’s not just them outdoors hiding in the dark shadows, it’s people that could be living right next door to you and if we don’t talk to one another, if we don’t take mental health care accessible, if we don’t have a real conversation about weapons that isn’t politically driven, then we are going to just keep being disappointed about the deaths of innocent people.”