Mental Help Suggested in Columbine
STEVEN K. PAULSON
May. 10, 2000
DENVER (AP) _ Members of a task force formed in the wake of the Columbine massacre said Wednesday they plan to recommend mental health assistance for those most affected by the shootings for at least two years.
That may not be enough, Jefferson County mental health officials said.
``There's a lot of pain in the community,'' said Harriet Hall, Jefferson County's mental health director. ``We planned to begin reducing staff in October, but that may not be possible.''
Bob Brooks, executive director of the Department of Local Affairs, said a report to Gov. Bill Owens will recommend that the task force continue so members can deal with ongoing problems at the school.
Disclosures about videotapes made by the two gunmen, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, an Internet threat to a student to ``finish the job,'' the suicide of a mother of a shooting victim, the murders of two Columbine sweethearts at a sandwich shop and the recent release of videotapes made at the scene have taken a toll, Hall said.
Most recently, 2,000 people attended the funeral of Columbine High School basketball star Greg Barnes hanged himself last week.
Barnes had seen a teacher critically wounded and lost one of his best friends in the April 20, 1999, shooting. Twelve students and a teacher were killed. The student gunmen then turned the weapons on themselves.
Owens gave the county $1 million to pay first-year costs, but only $125,000 went to mental health, Hall said. The rest offset costs of the investigation, one of the largest in the state's history.
The task force is recommending $450,000 to cover the second year of treatment and pay for mental health staff in schools, and Hall is requesting $300,000 for a third year.