From a classroom at Virginia Tech to a strip mall in Tucson to a movie theater in Colorado, a common thread runs through many of the nation´s tragic mass murders: severe and untreated mental illness. Virginia Tech´s Seung-Hui Cho was delusional. Wild outbursts by Jared Lee Loughner scared classmates at his Tucson community college, which banned him from campus. James Holmes arrived at his first court appearance after his Aurora theater rampage with orange hair and a wild look in his eyes.
A must-read. The most cogent piece of writing on this subject from a major publication that I have seen. Those familiar with mental health issues have been saying this for years.
The only thing I would add is that it doesn´t have to be expensive. More than one-third of prisoners suffer from mental illness. If we spend the money to treat them before they commit crimes, then most won´t end up in jails. Any law enforcement professional will tell you that it is less expensive to treat them in the mental health system than in the jails. So the money you spend on mental health is money you will save in the criminal justice system.
We have increased the number of conditions that require treatment via drugs to the point where people who feel bad mostly because they made stupid decisions are routinely prescribed anti-depressants. At the same time we ignore many of those with profound mental illness because of the Hollywood driven myth they are free spirits who can be super creative.
The US long ago closed State Mental Hospitals ........ without adequate provision for these people being incarcerated or treated elsewhere.
Also years of ACLU legal action has protected their Human Right to freedom and refusal of treatment and medication ............. unless ´imminent deadly threat´.
The vast majority of mass murderers are mentally ill, semi-functioning people who do not seek treatment or refuse medication.
Also friends or relatives of such people find it almost impossible to institutionalize those they fear pose a nonspecific ´danger´ ........... due to legal impediments designed to protect the ´legal rights´ of the mentally ill person, unless they pose an imminent danger´ [usually TOO late].
There are those also who murder while high or impaired on illegal drugs whose numbers will increase thanks to benighted liberalization of drug laws.
A high % of homeless are mentally ill ......... but also cannot be hospitalized unless they have attacked someone, usually not with a firearm.
NOTE I do not include criminals and drug cartels in this discussion, though it is possible some of these are mentally ill or impaired.
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