I grew up in the small city of Roseburg. Officially, I moved to Roseburg to its rolling green hills, from Salt Lake City, where I used to float in the Great Salt Lake when I was 10. In my 4th grade, I, and other students, participated in Roseburg’s Centennial where we dressed up like Sacajawea, Lewis and Clark, Patrick Henry, and famous pioneers who had made their names in Oregon History. I wore my curly red hair in ringlets underneath a bonnet made of pink- flowered material, cardboard, and ribbons, and slipped into sliky pantaloons that my mom had made for me. The style of the day. In grade school we opened our song books and sang softly “from this valley they say you are going,” (lyrics from “Red River Valley”), and “Roll on mighty Umpqua roll on,” instead of lyrics “Roll on Columbia” ( from “Roll On Columbia”). Oddly enough, when I became a teenager, the Umpqua River flooded its banks, and the flood of Oregon 1964, claimed lives and left many people of Roseburg homeless. The river filled my family’s duplex with five feet of water. My sister’s off-white Catholic prayer book with its gold crucifix exposed was found lying on an upper shelf next to the top of our Christmas tree. A neighbor picked us up by boat. We felt like a lucky star was watching over us that night and was grateful that our lives were spared. A few years prior, we experienced the blast where a truck carrying two tons of dynamite and four tons of blasting agents blew up in the center of town injuring many and killing 13 including one other who died from injuries. News of the disaster was all over the Oregon newspapers. We had moved to a tiny house on Maple Street,and I awoke in the morning to see my mom with one hand pressed against the wall in her makeup and red lipstick on her lips tilting to one side. The image of her leaning against the wall as if to hold it up while the blast was happening, turned the golden and red leaves of autumn to stained and purple.The explosives shattered the air. It was scary. It was a morning to remember. Even though Roseburg had yet, another disaster-this time the Columbus Day Storm- where shingles burst wildly and madly flying off of rooftops, Roseburg repaired its spirits, recovered and moved on. The quiet, quaint, town of Roseburg was in altered states but it was strong. How does one manage with these catastrophes you may ask? The good thing was that the town’s people huddled together. They offered food, clothing, friendship, and faith when needed. They kept building brighter, better houses, and buildings to compensate for the cold barren streets and the shock of loneliness. The community built a Community College on the north side of town and named it, Umpqua Community College. It was clean, bright and beautiful. Offered dynamic courses with profound techniques and tools to learn from. Roseburg was expanding. However, the children of Roseburg, who were 30 and 20 years my younger, were faced with another catastrophe. Not like the late 50's and early 60's. The environmental and atmospheric challenges that comprised the daily living of the past. Instead, they faced were challenged with far more internal and deadly events.Ten were killed and nine injured at Umpqua Community College. The shooter had committed suicide. Life for the college students changed from keeping focused on writing an essay in class or taking a test to the fear that someone would take your life. Children afraid to breath and carrying a heavy load. Shouldn’t have had to happen. Especially when one realizes it’s not safe to go to school. I can see how difficult and insistent this could be for them. Difficult that the students must constantly watch out for themselves and for their fellow students. Insistent that they must be meticulous about taking care their psychological needs and looking beyond the beauty and innocent to survive. It was ironic to me. I had gone to Umpqua Community College one semester in my freshmen year. I took two Certified Nures’s Aide courses there, learning to bath patients, feed them, take care of their special needs. Umpqua gave me the opportunity to fulfill my dreams as a caregiver and save lives. The town's people were wholesome and humble. I was able to comfort the sick, help many with diseases like cancer and be with them at their end stages of life, with my certificate. Now I hear the news today and students are striving to stay alive. I am sad beyond repair. Ten killed and nine injured at Umpqua Community College, I don’t see how another can take another’s life and take his own life. We need to channel more resources into Suicide Prevention, NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), Behavioral Health, Life Works, and Research Centers to help those who are contemplating suicide and want to hurt another human being. Asking questions like, What is this person thinking and where is he coming from? Can we help them? How, when, or why are they going to carry out this act? Can we talk with a health care professional for them? We need more resources to help people with mental illness stay out of the hospitals and prisons and to help them to become stable with therapy and medication. Our Senator Merkley lost his cousin’s great granddaughter in this crisis. It’s very sad. I am so sorry.Life is a precious gift. People have lost their loved ones and children. We, as a society, needs to change the way we are treating people. We need better gun laws. Roseburg doesn’t need another disaster.

Author's Bio: 

I am a lecturer in a psych ward for NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), bringing hope, meditation, and resources to patients leaving the hospital. I am also an In Our Own Voice speaker giving presentations to universities and hospitals about mental health for NAMI. I have written a memoir called Sherry Goes Sane: Living A Life With Schizo-Affective Disorder and on November 14th, 2015, I have the honor to give a speech about schizoaffective disorder and my book at NAMI Oregon's Annual Conference. My book can be found on Amazon, Create Space, paper back or Kindle, and through Barnes & Noble and Powell's Books and Central Library in Portland, Oregon.