Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Media continue to explore Va. Tech tragedy

Over the past week, the media has continued to cover the Virginia Tech shootings. The reoccuring theme is that that the mental health community failed. Some, such as the Charleston Daily Mail in West Virginia have expressed thanks that their state has an assisted outpatient treatment law.

Dr. E. Fuller Torrey in the Wall Street Journal:
The tragedy of Virginia Tech is a microcosm of our failed mental health system and our confusion about civil rights. Mentally ill individuals have a civil right to receive treatment, even when their brain disease precludes awareness of their illness. And the public has a civil right to be protected from potentially dangerous individuals. We are failing both the patients and the public.

The San Antonio Express explains these tragedies happen too often:
The same week that a disturbed student exploded in a rage of killings at Virginia Tech, there were other incidents that received far less attention.Media reports about the tragic combination of mental illness and violence are all too common, with family members the most likely victims.

Ray McAllister writes in the Richmond Times-Dispatch:
With guns readily available and checks on the mentally disabled not -- we can forget wondering if there will be another killing. The only question is when and where.
And how many will die.

In the Charleston Daily Mail in West Virginia, the editorial board is thankful for Kendra's Law in their state:

In the wake of the Virginia Tech massacre, people across the nation are wondering: How can these things be short-circuited? Could it happen here? The answer is that it's less likely in West Virginia, thanks to what is called Kendra's Law.

[Kendra’s] death caused New York state lawmakers to make it possible for courts to order people with mental illnesses to take their prescribed medications and to receive treatment. This is fair to the patient and to society as well.

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