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Mental Illness, Public Safety and Lessons from the Past

In the aftermath of the tragedy in Arizona, I watched as the portrait of Jared Loughner, the alleged assailant, began to emerge. It was predictable and painful. Another young man, whose gradual psychological deterioration appeared to have been recognized but apparently not treated, had allegedly erupted in a horrifying display of violence.


Although it doesn't require a professional to recognize that Loughner appeared to be seriously disturbed, those of us who work in the mental health field are more likely than most to understand the troubling reality about treatment: Even with clear signs of psychosis, it is very difficult to force someone to get help.


The story of Jared Loughner makes me think about a much earlier killing involving a student: California's landmark Tarasoff case, which led to a critical change in how mental health professionals deal with violent patients.

Read the rest on AOL News.


By the way, Gina Misiroglu of Red Room put me in touch with the AOL people, which is one of the great ways in which she's bringing traffic to Red Room and getting attention for Red Room's authors.



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It's terrible how those with

It's terrible how those with mental health issues seem to be ignored. I'm just observing with no real experience or knowledge, but it seems so many homeless and isolated people have mental health issues that have contributed to them being cast aside with no real hope.

I also believe rotten folks come in every flavor, just like good folks do. Is Jared, a fellow Tucson resident, a criminally violent person with a mental health issue or a mentally unbalanced man who just needed guidance?

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Thanks for commenting,

Thanks for commenting, Keith. These are complex issues, but from what I have read I'd tend to agree with your second alternative.

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Mental Illness.

It is a catch twenty two. The laws that are inacted to protect an individauls rights and safety also hinder them from getting appropriate help in certain situations. Oh, and of course money comes into play in many states mental health care systems!

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Thanks for commenting,

Thanks for commenting, Therese. The situation is particularly confusing in Arizona, where there is: 1) a great emphasis on individual rights to the detriment of social programs; 2) but a surprising looseness in criteria for ordering someone into mental health treatment; and yet 3) fewer public options for mental health treatment than most states offer!