Mental health its more important than you might think

On Saturday Jan. 8, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) was the target of an assassination attemptwhile giving a speech in front of a Tucson, Ariz. grocery store. Six people were killed and Giffords remains incritical condition from a gunshot wound to the head. The gunman, Jared Lee Loughner, 22, was immediately apprehended and taken into custody. As the dayshave gone on and more details have been discovered, it becomes clear that Loughner is a mentally unstableindividual. What remains unclear is how his mental state- clearly violent and radical- went both untreated andpushed aside. Representatives from Pima Community College, which Loughner previously attended, said that Loughnerwas given an ultimatum early last year: either take a psychological examination on the grounds of his errantbehavior, or leave the College. Loughner chose the latter. The matter was a nonissue until his rampage a fewdays ago. Friends of Loughner are now coming forward to corroborate the common consensus: it was only amatter of time until he did something dangerous. How does a case so severe fall through the cracks of the mental health system? Psychologists were able tomake a clear-cut diagnosis of Schizophrenia with violent tendencies mere days after Loughner was takeninto custody. Yet no actions were taken by family, friends or institutions to address what they recognized as apowder keg waiting to go off. Clearly there is a flaw in the system. The mental health and involuntary confinement laws vary from state to state. The Baker Act allows for aperson to be involuntarily examined by mental health officials if there is evidence that they present a danger tothemselves or others. Unfortunately this law is only for the state of Florida. Most states don’t have laws in thisvein- Arizona among them- which allows the mentally unstable to go untreated and unmonitored. We are not saying all people with mental disorders should be committed. Nor are we suggesting involuntaryconfinement become blanket legislation. However, the dialogue needs to be opened as to what recourse isrequired to protect both the rights of the violently mentally infirmed, while preserving the safety of thosearound them. Let us not forget, in the midst of mourning those lost, to see what we as a country can learn fromthe tragedy and grow. The victims deserve at least that much.