To the editor: What do mass shootings in schools, supermarkets, movie theaters and streets have in common with drug addiction and ramming a Capitol Police officer into a barricade at full speed?

Mental Illness. I have heard very little in the media about the need for increased education about the different forms of mental illness. When these illnesses are ignored by society, a stigma is born, and when a stigma is born, watch out. People who suffer from depression can slide into their own worlds, sometimes descending into near-madness.

I have suffered from depression myself, and it is a deep, black hole. Fortunately I had support and many years of therapy and medications have helped me to overcome it. While my own depression took the form of sadness and self-criticism, I did not choose to numb my pain with opioids, but many do choose the route of self-medicating their pain away, because that is what they have readily available.

But the pain always returns, and this creates a vicious cycle. Some depressions appear in rage form, and if rage has a readily available tool (a gun, a car, a knife), the illness erupts with fury and destruction. We need to educate the population about mental illness and how to get help before it's literally too late. We need a national task force to address this serious issue. State and local governments can also take on the responsibility. It is crucial that we do so.

Julia Erickson, West Stockbridge