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It has now been one year since the shooting at the Clackamas Town Center, yet every time I walk through the mall doors, especially those near the food court, I think back to that horrific day.

When I heard word of a shooting at the mall on Dec. 11, I instantly thought of my friends. That is our mall where we do all of our shopping. Many of my friends stay home with their children and were at the mall just before the incident. Our children’s school choir performed there earlier in the day.

Within an hour, Facebook soon lit up with those of us all checking in and saying we were OK. Knowing that no one in my inner circle was injured, I went back to thinking like a journalist and kept tabs on the updates as the evening progressed.

The very next morning, I received a phone call. One of the victims, Steve Forsyth, was from West Linn. My heart sank. Now this was not just a news story, it was my news story. I rushed off to the press conference and then started contacting all the people I could who knew Steve to share their stories of him, his life and his young family.

Then I received another blow. It dawned on me that I was acquaintances with Cindy Yuille - we had a mutual friend. Now this was not just my news story, but my story. I’ve shared dinners with Cindy. We were on the same Hood to Coast team one year. In fact, I had the traditional carb-loading pasta dinner at her home the night before the relay. Just a couple of years ago, Cindy, a hospice nurse, helped save my friend’s life. He suffered heat stroke during a relay in Sun River and was experiencing organ failure. Her quick thinking and calm demeanor got him the help he needed.

Now both Steve and Cindy are gone because of a mentally unstable young man, 22-year-old Jacob Tyler Roberts, who made an awful decision that day, taking out other lives before taking his own.

Unfortunately, this was not an isolated incident. Others, mad at the world, mentally ill, chips on their shoulders, also released their fury on innocent people. In 2012, there were 16 mass shootings in the U.S., leaving 88 people dead.

This is not about gun control. Yes, it may have prevented some of these deaths if these angry men were denied fire arms. However, Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev did not use guns when they wreaked havoc at the Boston Marathon on April 15, leaving three dead and 264 injured after two pressure cooker bombs exploded.

This is about helping the mentally ill. Why is there still a stigma with mental illness? Why is it so hard to diagnose and treat?

We need to work harder to find ways to help people suffering from a mental illness. Both the state and the federal government need to step up and funnel some tax dollars to aid these people. Not only may they be saving their lives, but the lives of others.

Perhaps, if Jacob had found treatment he would have stuck with his plan of moving to Hawaii rather than showing up at the mall wearing tactical clothing and a hockey mask and open firing on innocent shoppers with a stolen semiautomatic rifle. We would still have Cindy and Steve creating positive changes in our communities and in our lives.

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