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Posted at 10:42 AM ET, 01/10/2011

The mental-health angle

By Ezra Klein

Most of the explanations for Saturday's shooting that hinge on policy or politics don't stand up to their own counterfactuals very well. I see little evidence, for instance, that Jared Loughlin was particularly influenced by the statements of any mainstream politicians. Similarly, if he'd not been able to buy the specific magazine clip that he used -- it would've been banned if previously defeated legislation regulation assault weapons had passed -- he would've likely used a different kind of clip, or gun.

The one exception, I think, is the one Jon Cohn mentions today: mental-health treatment. Loughlin was understood in his community to be a clearly disturbed individual. He was kicked out of his college because his behavior scared the other students. I don't know what his access to mental-health care was like -- it's possible he was given ample opportunities to see a psychiatrist and simply refused them -- but it does seem plausible that if he'd been in treatment, this wouldn't have happened. And in general, Arizona's mental-health infrastructure isn't great:

Arizona in this regard is fairly typical. Mental health services in Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, has been the subject of litigation for more than twenty years. The state has tried contracting out services to two different private companies, but care seems to be getting worse, not better.

A 2009 survey by the National Associaiton for the Mentally Ill reported that, statewide, mental health services had actually improved over the previous three years, to the point where the organization bumped Arizona's grade from a “D+” to a “C.” But, NAMI noted, there are still enormous problems, from shortages of providers to long waits for services. “Having case managers with nearly 100 clients does not allow them to do anything but respond to emergencies,” one survey respondent told NAMI. “Until my family member has an emergency, there is no case management.”

And unlike a lot of the legislation Congress might produce in response to Saturday's rampage, making it easier for people to find and access mental-health services would be an unadulterated good thing that would certainly prevent many tragedies -- maybe not shootings, but tragedies nevertheless -- going forward.

By Ezra Klein  | January 10, 2011; 10:42 AM ET
 
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Comments

And there is very little evidence that smoking kills.

Posted by: lauren2010 | January 10, 2011 10:51 AM | Report abuse

It's a small point, but since he was overcome by bystanders while trying to reload, if he'd had to reload sooner he might have gotten fewer shots off, which would have been pretty significant for some of the victims.

And while I agree that greater access to mental health care would be a good thing, I've seen nothing in the reporting so far about the shooter or his family that make me optimistic that this individual would have taken advantage of it voluntarily.

Posted by: zimbar | January 10, 2011 10:53 AM | Report abuse

"I see little evidence, for instance, that Jared Loughlin was particularly influenced by the statements of any mainstream politicians."

I am not sure it matters. If someone wishes that you die in a car crash and then you die in a car crash we should still look at them with disgust and abhorrence even though there is no causality.

Why does it matter more after-the-fact than before? Logically it doesn't - they never should've said it anyway - but for whatever reason it does matter more.

Posted by: chrisgaun | January 10, 2011 11:05 AM | Report abuse

well sure it doesn't matter if you're trying to score political points after the death of a 9 year old child chrisguan. Kudos to you for your lack of taste/respect.

onto Ezra's post he's totally correct. The questions I have is "where are his parents/family members?" I read and was amazed at the same quote about the community college issue. This individual should not be allowed to buy alcohol much less firearms. Gun control should be the main issue here and not distorted by those on the left screaming about Palin or those on the right screaming about some left leaning blogs proclaiming Giffords "dead to them". It should be about fixing the problem not causing more.

Also there was word that he tried to enter the military but was not enlisted for some reason but privacy laws did not allow disclosure. Another problem. Sure we need privacy laws but if public safety is at risk something should be done in this regard.

Posted by: visionbrkr | January 10, 2011 11:20 AM | Report abuse

I agree with chrisgaun that even if there's no causal connection between this shooting and heated political rhetoric and/or gun control issues. Both of those are important issues. We should be careful in making direct causal links unless we uncover specific facts which support them, and we should never wrongly invoke the names and deaths/injuries of victims in advancing policies that aren't directly related (see 9/11) to them. Still, if this tragedy leads people to have a discussion about an important issue, we shouldn't discourage it.

Posted by: MosBen | January 10, 2011 11:22 AM | Report abuse

http://mediamatters.org/research/201010260050

There is indeed an upswing of right wing violence since Obama got elected.

Dpt Homeland Sec even warned of it a year or so ago.

That link barely lists them all. There are other shootings such as the Holocaust museum, and if memory serves, a Pentagon guard was shot, all by right wingers angry at the gvmt or Dems.

Recent bombs in md and DC post offices.

Plane flow into IRS offices.

Abortion DR murdered by a church member.

Number of bomb/other threats have exponentially increased.

Same thing happened after Clinton was elected. E.g. remember the guy with the gun at the WH fence?

There's a reason right-wingers get angry when Dems take office. It's because there is a deluge of OVER THE TOP anti-gvmt and anti-Dem rhetoric from the GOP and the corporate media when they lose elections.

People like Palin put names on hit lists or publish addresses of political opponents.

For those of you with many conservative family member, especially if they are rednecks, you have probably even heard them at Xmas dinner wish harm on Obama or other Dems.

A UFC fighter recently wished he could beat up Obama.

The people all these idiots should be angry at are rich white conservative Republicans and Democrats. They are the ones who caused our fiscal mess and who are actually "arsonists posing as firemen".

Posted by: lauren2010 | January 10, 2011 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Why do cigarette companies spend millions on advertisement? Because it works, yet smokers probably cannot point to one commercial in particular that causes them to smoke in general or a particular brand. The same is true of beer commercials. And what does that have to do with Jared Loughlin? I won't say it was Sarah Palin or Glenn Beck or some other irresponsible actor in particular who incited him, but I do believe the general atmosphere they are shaping is similar to the effect that advertisers strive to create where a certain kind of behavior becomes more likely. I don't think we can outlaw this kind of speech, but I believe they do share some responsibility for what has occurred. And I believe the Right is the primary advertisor.

Posted by: johnsonr1 | January 10, 2011 11:41 AM | Report abuse

@lauren:

i seem to remember some violence in the year after bush was elected.

Posted by: eggnogfool | January 10, 2011 11:49 AM | Report abuse


I mean, what an incredible coincidence. There are two remaining House members on Sarah Palin's target list, and one of them got shot a week into the new Congress.
It's not OK to threaten other people, and I'm disappointed that so many left-leaning media types take the attitude that you do. Leaders have to understand that some of their followers are unstable.
Even the mentally ill operate within the fabric of society. If a mentally ill person believes another person is unhealthy or a threat and sees confirmation of it from a leading national figure, it increases probability of the ill person acting out against the target. Why wouldn't it?
I'm all for robust political speech, but there needs to be self-restraint by Republican leaders. America's top-ranking Republican, John Boehner, has been quoted making veiled threats against a political opponent. Democrats are routinely called Nazis, not by marginal posters to third-rate blogs, but by nationally prominent conservatives. These words have consequences. Again, why wouldn't they?

Posted by: RZ100 | January 10, 2011 11:52 AM | Report abuse

lauren,

you do know that there are the occasional rich "black" conservatives right? You throwing race in your little crazy rant there is just showing you to be the kook we all know you are and brings ZERO to any discussion.

Posted by: visionbrkr | January 10, 2011 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Sadly, one of Loughner's professors has commented that he tried to talk to him about getting counseling, but Loughner always ran away.

Posted by: tomtildrum | January 10, 2011 11:59 AM | Report abuse

vision

name calling again eh?

Had the few blacks voted against everything since day one, we would still be in the mess we are.

I'm caucasian. The fact is, it aint the hispanics or the gays or the blacks or the liberals that got us in this mess.

It's the rich white guys.

Anger is misdirected in this country. These people need to look in the mirror.

Posted by: lauren2010 | January 10, 2011 12:17 PM | Report abuse

egg

violence is not entirely owned by the right, that is true.

Seems to me it goes in cycles. There was squeaky fromme and the guy who shot Reagan.

I was a Republican during those years.

But since about 1992 the cycle has turned to the right.

American left wing violence since about 1992 has paled compared to the right wing.

Your response to mine lacked any details to convince me otherwise. My post has numerous examples.

Posted by: lauren2010 | January 10, 2011 12:30 PM | Report abuse

lauren,

i didn't ask nor do I care what color you are. That wasn't the point. The point was you're inciting similar hatred that you suggested that Gifford's sue Palin and Beck over. The fact that you can't see that just shows how blind you are to your own ideological beliefs.


How bout we just abhore violence and heated rhetoric from ANYONE. Who cares if they're left or right wing.

Posted by: visionbrkr | January 10, 2011 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Why do liberals ignore the discovery channel hostage environmentalist when talking about violence?

Posted by: krazen1211 | January 10, 2011 12:53 PM | Report abuse

"I am not sure it matters. If someone wishes that you die in a car crash and then you die in a car crash we should still look at them with disgust and abhorrence even though there is no causality."

Did Sarah Palin or any other maligned conservative actually wish that Giffords would be killed?

Posted by: justin84 | January 10, 2011 12:54 PM | Report abuse

"i didn't ask nor do I care what color you are. That wasn't the point. The point was you're inciting similar hatred that you suggested that Gifford's sue Palin and Beck over. The fact that you can't see that just shows how blind you are to your own ideological beliefs."


If you want to bring up race, a large disproportionate number of violent criminals and murderers are black, and with about 98% probability from that, Democrats.

Posted by: krazen1211 | January 10, 2011 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Ezra you miss the point. His parents are responsbile for not having him committed involuntarily which they certainly could have done. All they would have needed to do is to call the police and sign the statement that he was a danger to himself or others, and that would have automatically gotten them a 72-hour hold for observation.

Posted by: 54465446 | January 10, 2011 12:55 PM | Report abuse

54465446,

great point. Has anyone bothered to try to inteview his parents? Get their story? That should sadly shed a lot of light onto him.

Posted by: visionbrkr | January 10, 2011 1:04 PM | Report abuse

vision

I am trying to understand the sources of the violence and the rhetoric and the hatred, and by pointing out that the violence is misdirected and that people should blame themselves (which a careful reader would realize I am doing) I AM SPREADING HATRED?

That's like saying if someone if someone pisses on me and I complain that it's my fault.

I have a question. Since you called me a kook for pointing out that rich white conservatives in all parties have dominated US gvmt and are the ones responsible for our current mess, do you call Palin a kook for creating hit lists and using gun terminology to defreat Dems? Do you call Republicans who say we need to use "second amendment remedies" kooks? Do you call Beck a kook for calling Obama a racist and implying he has concentration camps?

Posted by: lauren2010 | January 10, 2011 1:09 PM | Report abuse

krazen

We are talking of political related violence.

Yes, there are lots of murderers, many of them black, but many others too. There are different reasons for those kinds of crimes.

Posted by: lauren2010 | January 10, 2011 1:11 PM | Report abuse

@ezra: "I see little evidence, for instance, that Jared Loughlin was particularly influenced by the statements of any mainstream politicians"

@lauren: "And there is very little evidence that smoking kills."

Actually, there's an overwhelming amount of data that indicates the health risks and causal relationship, re: heart disease and cancer, with smoking.

If there's significant evidence that Loughlin was a right-winger--like his 9/11 trutherism, because we know how many folks in the GOP are truthers--why not mention that, instead of some counter-factual rhetorical cop-out?

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | January 10, 2011 1:35 PM | Report abuse

"We are talking of political related violence.

Yes, there are lots of murderers, many of them black, but many others too. There are different reasons for those kinds of crimes."

So why exactly are leftist populations in ghettos and inner cities predisposed to violence even in the absence of political rhetoric?

Posted by: krazen1211 | January 10, 2011 1:36 PM | Report abuse

@johnson: "I won't say it was Sarah Palin or Glenn Beck or some other irresponsible actor in particular who incited him, but I do believe the general atmosphere they are shaping is similar to the effect that advertisers strive to create where a certain kind of behavior becomes more likely. I don't think we can outlaw this kind of speech, but I believe they do share some responsibility for what has occurred. And I believe the Right is the primary advertisor."

So the solution is to take away their microphone, right? Of course, liberals keep theirs, because they use it responsibly.

Problem solved.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | January 10, 2011 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Having the treatment available may not help, especially for paranoids. See Bill Zeller (he had a suicide note on Gizmodo last week).

His note explicitly said he didn't seek professional counseling to help deal with his major issue (having been molested), because he couldn't trust a therapist to keep the secret. If nothing else, he reasoned that mandatory-reporting laws might mandate the therapist get law enforcement involved (because the molester might still be offending).

It'd be even more difficult for an anti-government paranoid to accept government-funded counseling and treatment.

Posted by: mutterc | January 10, 2011 1:43 PM | Report abuse

lauren,

yes Palin and Beck are kooks. I don't watch Fox News. I watch MSNBC mostly although Olbermann, Matthews and Ed Schultz are especially nutty. Maddow isn't bad but she is obviously one sided (love her commercials that say "I'm not trying to push an agenda". HAHA. They're ALL trying to push an agenda.

You seem to have a problem distinguishing between one persons' beliefs and if they're left wing or right wing. I'm for gun control which must drive you nuts because you consider me a conservative (i guess).

If you mentioned anything negative Democrats have done (did you look at msoja's link to the things Dems and liberals have done?) then I'd take you a little more seriously with your rants. Otherwise its just hate. Different from msoja's hate but hate nonetheless.

Posted by: visionbrkr | January 10, 2011 1:45 PM | Report abuse

One question is why do the poor turn to liberals for help?

We already know economic hardship can cause crime.

But a more interesting question is why do right wingers easily engage in political violence and rhetoric.

Posted by: lauren2010 | January 10, 2011 1:49 PM | Report abuse

The dept of homeland defense believes there us causation between certain right wingers and violence. So the same kinds of studies as applies to smoking can probably trace recent RR violence and rhetoric.

Liberals are quite capable if violence and misuse of microphones too. It's just that right now it's not a problem.

Posted by: lauren2010 | January 10, 2011 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Vision

You've always had a personal vendetta against me from the start.

Claiming I spread hate because I am correcting the record is ludicrous.

One problem is that I personally witness lots of racism and maybe you are in a clean environment so aren't aware of the depth of racism and it's effects.

I have to run.

Look at his link later.

Posted by: lauren2010 | January 10, 2011 2:00 PM | Report abuse

lauren,

i have no personal vendetta against you and never have. I'd just rather when you post that you post the ENTIRE set of facts not just a convenient set that fit your agenda.

I honestly probably am somewhat sheltered in my enviorment from racism from both sides so I know that it exists but also don't beleive that it needs to be perpetuated by comments like you made targeting "rich white guys" as you put it. Generalities like that almost always make you look silly as others have pointed out to you as well.

Posted by: visionbrkr | January 10, 2011 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Mental illness does not correlate well with violence. "He was mentally ill" is not a sufficient explanation for his actions. Most people who suffer from schizophrenia or bipolar are harmful to no one, except perhaps themselves.

If you want to prevent violent outburst treat alcohol and drug abuse.

Posted by: CarlosXL | January 10, 2011 2:54 PM | Report abuse

I should clarify that any increase in violent behavior in schizophrenics, for example, is driven primarily by co-morbidity with alcohol and drug abuse.

The lesson is treat drugs and alcohol, as well as psychotic disorders.

The best recent review and meta-analysis:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2719053/?tool=pubmed

Posted by: CarlosXL | January 10, 2011 2:59 PM | Report abuse


Good mental health treatment would certainly have been helpful, BUT since when do paranoids volunteer themselves for treatment? As a professional, I can tell you that paranoids, especially paranoid schizophrenics like this fellow sounds to be, most usually enter treatment because of court mandates either through mental health court orders or criminal court.

There was nothing in the reports, thus far, that would indicate that this fellow could have been involuntarily committed and he had not committed a crime attributed to his mental illness. BTW, as I understand it he was removed from school because of disrupting class, not just because peers feared him.

Posted by: familynet | January 10, 2011 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Ugh, sorry, I'm very ineffective today. That was a link to the commentary on the actual review. And I should further clarify that while there is some link, it's dwarfed by substance abuse and isn't in and of itself a sufficient explanation for a murderous rampage, the link just isn't that strong.

Posted by: CarlosXL | January 10, 2011 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Vision

You are free to rebut with facts.

But don't pretend you speak for everyone or can simply claim I am wrong by decree.

If I am wrong about "rich white guys" then prove it.

I am precisely correct on that.

Posted by: lauren2010 | January 10, 2011 7:45 PM | Report abuse

familynet wrote:

"There was nothing in the reports, thus far, that would indicate that this fellow could have been involuntarily committed and he had not committed a crime attributed to his mental illness."

You are completely incorrect, post-Columbine. You must not be at all familiar with the process.

Posted by: 54465446 | January 10, 2011 8:46 PM | Report abuse

Klein- he was forced to drop out of school because he *refused* a mental health evaluation. Nice try, failed point.

By the way, mental health treatment is extraordinarily expensive. How much of my life's work's value should I sacrifice to people like this?

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

lauren,

I didn't make the claim about "rich white guys" you did so I don't need to prove anything you do. And if I put up one rich black person or hispanic or whatever then you're offically wrong.

So here's one link that proves you wrong.

http://www.nationalbankers.org/history.asp


This group's credo is:

To serve as an advocate for the nation's minority and women owned banks on legislative and regulatory matters concerning and affecting our members and the communities they serve


WHOA!! There are minority and women owned banks? I thought it was all rich old white guys? I'm sure they're evil right wingers too. That's what Lauren said so it has to be right, RIGHT???

Posted by: visionbrkr | January 11, 2011 9:30 AM | Report abuse

here's another link as the above mentioned one relates specifically to banks which you didn't mention.

You said people should be angry at rich white conservatives. Should these people be angry at them too?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_conservatism

Posted by: visionbrkr | January 11, 2011 9:35 AM | Report abuse

"By the way, mental health treatment is extraordinarily expensive. How much of my life's work's value should I sacrifice to people like this?"

Depends how selfish you are, really.

Or perhaps not selfish, if you're not a shut-in, and have to venture into a scary big world where the severely mentally ill go without treatment. (But that's visionbreaker's life's work's value.)

Posted by: pseudonymousinnc | January 12, 2011 12:25 AM | Report abuse

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