I know what it is like to have a family member with severe mental illness.

My late brother had a psychotic breakdown when he was 17. That was the first time my family would visit him in a locked psychiatric ward. A few weeks later, we were there for his 18th birthday.

It was grim. The doctors weren’t holding out any hope that he’d ever recover.

Eventually, with medication, he did recover enough to be discharged, to live on his own and to start a family. But there was a cycle.

Sometimes, I think he would believe he was functioning so well that he could go off his meds. Soon I’d get a phone call from our parents, then travel to visit another locked ward closer to their home. Sometimes, I think he was frustrated with the side effects from the heavy-duty meds he was taking and stopped for that reason. The cycle would begin again.

Although our father was a lifelong hunter who kept his guns locked up, I do not believe that my brother ever showed any interest in guns or hunting, thank goodness. We families need a red flag law. I cannot imagine the anguish of the family of Robert Card who tried to tell law enforcement that he was a danger to himself and to others.


I do not understand why we send only law enforcement to make a wellness check, as was attempted here, when I doubt they have the training to help a person in a severe phase of mental illness.

Why wasn’t a mental health professional the lead member of that attempt to check his well-being?

And why do some seem so ready to seek the easy answer, that this mass shooting was caused by mental illness? Only in part. It’s also the easy availability of guns, especially assault weapons, in our state and in our country.

My father grew up in rural Maine, north of Farmington, hunting there with his family. I think hunting was a necessity since the venison would have helped them get through the winter. Some of my family members are hunters now.

I support the use of guns when they’re in the hands of careful hunters or used for target shooting. But I think we are overdue to reinstate the ban on assault weapons and to evaluate and close the loopholes in background checks and in gun show sales.

Yes, now we need to be Lewiston Strong, the grieving community where my husband grew up. And Auburn Strong. And Lisbon Strong. And Baxter School Strong.

Surely part of that strength is a willingness to choose a better path for our future. I grieve for the 18 souls who cannot be part of that future.

Marj Patrick, Auburn

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