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Posted at 4:56 PM ET, 01/10/2011

Jared Loughner's behavior never reported to mental health authorities: official

By Brigid Schulte

Despite mounting concerns about his bizarre and disturbing behavior, local mental health authorities in Pima County, Ariz. said Monday that no one reported any concerns to them about Tucson mass shooting suspect Jared Lee Loughner.

Loughner is accused of shooting 20 people on Saturday, killing six and wounding 14, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D).

"To the best of our knowledge, he was never and is currently not enrolled in our system," said Neal Cash, president of the Community Partnership of Southern Arizona, the organization that provides mental health services to Tucson and Pima County for the state.

The majority of the people they serve are on Medicare, Cash said, but anyone diagnosed with a serious mental illness would be in their system and eligible for services. Despite severe cutbacks in the state mental health budget as a result of the foreclosure crisis and recession - Cash estimates around $50 million has been cut in the last two fiscal years - he said that no one diagnosed seriously mentally ill has been turned down for services.

Arizona has what is considered one of the most progressive mental health laws in the country. Any person, including any of the students in Loughner's classes who exchanged worried emails about his strange actions or any of his teachers who sought to have him removed or who wanted him to receive treatment, could have petitioned the court to have him evaluated for mental illness.

Unlike other states, which require that someone be an imminent danger to themselves or others before seeking to have them involuntarily committed for psychiatric evaluation and treatment, in Arizona, one need only be "persistently or acutely" ill.

State law defines that as someone who appears to be mentally ill, but who may not know it."Our crisis line is manned 24/7," Cash said. "Anyone concerned about his behavior could have called at any time. I have no information to indicate that anyone ever did."

By Brigid Schulte  | January 10, 2011; 4:56 PM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency  
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Next: Sheriff's dept. seeking state murder charges against Loughner in Tucson shooting

Comments

If we see someone having a heart attack or bleeding, we call 911. Why we don't do the same for someone with multiple outbursts witnessed by the same people is beyond comprehension.

Posted by: comesthesun2 | January 12, 2011 9:26 AM | Report abuse

I said this on this blog a few hours after the shooting-where the hell was the mental health evaluation of this nut Loughner? Where the hell were his parents? His parents SHOULD be crying- I believe they were vicariously liable here for NOT bringing their son in for mental evaluation-if he wouldn't go willingly, we see that under Arizona law he could have been ordered to be evaluated.

Loughner is really enjoying all this attention, you know. You can see it in his face, his mug shot, his mad demeanor.

His parents should not be at all surprised WHEN THEY GET HIT WITH MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR WRONGFUL DEATH LAWSUITS-THEY SHOULD HAVE BROUGHT THEIR SON IN FOR MENTAL HEALTH EVALUATION LONG LONG AGO.

Posted by: arrabbiato | January 12, 2011 8:37 AM | Report abuse

I wonder whether or not Loughner (this 22 year old young man) had health coverage? He was not always 22 years of age you know. Yes, sounds like the signs were all there for serious intervention from professionals.
I can only guess what a parent without health insurace does to deal with problems that necessitate lengthy expensive mental health assessments and analysis. It is a cost we can not refuse to pay. Oh...it's the one issue in the Health Care bill that makes sense to parents of adult children 18-21. In this economy, they will need to stay on their parents coverage.

Posted by: Mavie | January 11, 2011 5:27 PM | Report abuse

As a retired college professor and clinical social worker (aka "shrink"), I have rather strong feelings about the fact that Mr. Loughner's behavior was not brought to the attention of members of the mental health community who might have been able to avert last week's tragedy.

As a nation we are over-concerned about protecting the "rights" of even the strangest people among us. Does it make sense to protect disturbed individuals when doing so puts others at risk? Where is our common sense? How many times will we have to see the consequences of the failure to act before we ALL recognize our obligation to alert authorities?

The fear that people will abuse this reporting responsibility is actually quite small. In any event a false report is likely to cause considerable inconvenience and embarrassment to the reporter. Hence, I say: let good judgment and common sense guide you. If you interact with someone whose behavior is bizarre and who, frankly, scares you, do not hesitate to notify authorities.

Posted by: jihhwood | January 11, 2011 5:05 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure too much of anyone is saying that these students or teachers should have referred him; only that under AZ law, they could've.

His parents should've. The administrators of his school, after tossing him out pending treatment, should've. Nobody wants to believe that a friend or family member has mental issues, and I can see where folks don't want to accuse someone and cause them problems.

I'm sure it's the same with some of the possible terror-related issues. I'd be willing to bet that the number of people who just walk past an abandoned suitcase thinking, "I know they say report unattended bags, but what're the chances that I'm going to actually find a bomb? Instead, I'm going to cause an evacuation that'll make everyone late to work (or whatever) and folks are just going to think I'm crazy for causing a whole bunch of commotion over a bag of old clothes, or something..." far outweighs the number of people who "see something, and say something." It's just human nature...)

But still, it's a shame that no one who could've reported him did so...

Posted by: repsac3 | January 11, 2011 8:58 AM | Report abuse

I'm not sure too much of anyone is saying that these students or teachers should have referred him; only that under AZ law, they could've.

His parents should've. The administrators of his school, after tossing him out pending treatment, should've. Nobody wants to believe that a friend or family member has mental issues, and I can see where folks don't want to accuse someone and cause them problems.

I'm sure it's the same with some of the possible terror-related issues. I'd be willing to bet that the number of people who just walk past an abandoned suitcase thinking, "I know they say report unattended bags, but what're the chances that I'm going to actually find a bomb? Instead, I'm going to cause an evacuation that'll make everyone late to work (or whatever) and folks are just going to think I'm crazy for causing a whole bunch of commotion over a bag of old clothes, or something..." far outweighs the number of people who "see something, and say something." It's just human nature...)

But still, it's a shame that no one who could've reported him did so...

Posted by: repsac3 | January 11, 2011 8:56 AM | Report abuse


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Posted by: itkonlyyou440 | January 10, 2011 9:28 PM | Report abuse

Does this guy have parents?

Posted by: MNUSA | January 10, 2011 7:27 PM | Report abuse

Loughner's strange, disruptive behavior was repeatedly reported to community college administration by the algebra teacher. Shouldn't the college administration have referred the information to state mental health officials? I don't think we can expect the teacher or other students to "petition the court" as the article suggests.

Posted by: allamer1 | January 10, 2011 6:59 PM | Report abuse

This is the real issue: just like the Virginia Tech rampage shooter, this student acted out so that everyone in his classes at Pima County Community College knew very well that under normal, non-abusive classroom conditions the student's behavior was scary and borderline schizo or psychotic and they were frightened by him.

Just like with Virginia Tech, the school or others in the school took notice: the Virginia Tech rampage shooter was court-ordered into counseling at the University's Counseling Center and Pima County Community College suspended the Tucson rampage shooter until he got a satisfactory mental health evaluation.

Neither school, however, acted on their responsibility to get the student into the health center and evaluated, and/or referred to evaluation. Virginia Tech never got their rampage shooter into the counseling the court ordered and Pima County Community College just kicked the student to the curb. Student activity fees do pay for a student health center -- which does or should include a counseling service -- and student health plans are also generally available on top of that.

Only in a country with a health care system like a Third World nation are these scary, troubled young men just left to bounce off the walls without help.

Posted by: AsperGirl | January 10, 2011 6:39 PM | Report abuse

You can't go around reporting casual acquaintances to the mental health authorities just because you think they're strange.

Maybe you could require anyone purchasing a gun to have a evaluation beforehand, though.

Posted by: Itzajob | January 10, 2011 6:02 PM | Report abuse

Why do we say his teachers or classmates should have had the responsibility for referring Loughner to local mental health authorities? What about his parents? They lived with him. They knew him better than anyone else.

Posted by: hdimig | January 10, 2011 5:37 PM | Report abuse

Why do we say his teachers or classmates should have had the responsibility for referring Loughner to local mental health authorities? What about his parents? They lived with him. They knew him better than anyone else.

Posted by: hdimig | January 10, 2011 5:37 PM | Report abuse

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