Of particular interest was this finding:
“Acute paranoia, delusions, and depression were rampant among them, with at least 35 of the killers committing suicide on or near the scene. (Seven others died in police shootouts they had little hope of surviving, regarded by some experts as “suicide by cop.”) And according to additional research we completed recently, at least 38 of them displayed signs of mental health problems prior to the killings. “
Yes, the expansion of guns laws may be to blame but untreated mental illness is also a major part of the problem.
Mental health system experts who have studied the current system contend that it is in disarray. The most recent group to document this assertion was President Bush’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health. In their report to President Bush, the Commission stated that:
“The mental health delivery system is fragmented and in disarray…lead[ing] to unnecessary and costly disability, homelessness, school failure and incarceration…In many communities, access to quality care is poor, resulting in wasted resources and lost opportunities for recovery. More individuals could recover from even the most serious mental illnesses if they had access in their communities to treatment and supports that are tailored to their needs.”
Understandably, many people are frightened of changing civil commitment laws but there are occasions when forced treatment is required to avert a tragedy. We have a system that often treats people after the fact, after they have suffered tremendously or perhaps harmed others.
Most people have never and will likely never be in the presence of someone who is actively psychotic and thus the argument regarding forced treatment remains abstract. It is a tragedy to watch a loved one decompensate in your presence and to be powerless to help them or to take them to a hospital for treatment. Commitment laws have become more liberal in some states but generally it is still very difficult to forcibly commit an individual to a hospital. Even when they are admitted they are often released before they are truly well and thus little is resolved.
When it comes to mass shootings, relatively speaking there is little empirical research. James Alan Fox and colleagues have written several books on the subject but a review of the scientific literature reveals relatively little in the way of evidence-based solutions regarding how to prevent future shootings. We still don’t know precisely what leads to mass shootings and we don’t how to stop them. Fixing our mental health system is one place to start. Another idea is the creation of a dedicated center and team of researchers who are singularly focused on the study of mass shootings. It could involve helping employers and the general public identify and effectively defuse a potenitally dangerous situation and or report the behavior of an individual who appears to be a “ticking time bomb,” among other ideas.
via Mother Jones