New questions arise about the mental health of Tucson shooting suspect Jared Loughner. Some medical experts say that there were signs that Loughner was a danger to himself and the public. Criminal psychologist Dr. Alan Lipman talks to Megyn Kelly on the “warning signs,” and whether someone should have noticed them.
Dr. Alan Lipman:
“People are now able to see based on the information that we’ve been talking about for the last 24 hours that Loughner was not an individual acting on a political motive largely. This was someone who was in the grip of a mental illness… These signs were visible. His symptoms were clear. His teachers, lawmakers and parents could have petitioned the state to get this man a psychiatric evaluation.”
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FOX News Insider reported:
Meredith Simons at Slate added this:
Jared Lee Loughner needed mental health help, and he didn’t get it. According to this story in the Washington Post, the alleged shooter was totally unknown to the Community Partnership of Southern Arizona, the Tucson entity that deals with mental health issues. But he should have been. Emily Y., you’re right that laws are “skewed toward protecting the rights of the mentally ill” in most states. But Arizona has unusually liberal mental health laws. There, anyone can file a petition asking a court to evaluate someone “solely because a person appears to be mentally ill and doesn’t know it.” Loughner had professors, fellow students, and friends who were afraid to be around him (or at least afraid to be around him and guns). If any one of them had filed a petition, Community Partnership would have been alerted and could have conducted a mental health evaluation on Loughner. Who knows what would have happened from there?
Emily B., you asked what we should expect from community colleges who have kids like Loughner on their rosters. It seems to me that – particularly in a state with laws like Arizona’s – dealing with a potentially dangerous individual is less the responsibility of the college than the community. Loughner’s fellow students, many of whom articulated their fear of him (“he scares the living crap out of me”), are adults, as are his professors, his friends, his neighbors, and his family members. It’s hard to blame them for not doing more. It’s highly unlikely that many, if any, of them knew what options they had for dealing with the threat they knew Loughner posed. But awareness of such laws (in the states where they’re on the books) should increase in the coming weeks.