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Preventing crime with better health care-could Jared Loughner have been stopped?

Preventative Mental Health Care?
Preventative Mental Health Care?

Preventing crime with better health care? If Jared Loughner had received "preemptive treatment", could the Tucson shooting have been prevented? This question has been heavy on the mind of one Gilbert mother, who herself is raising a child with emotional difficulties.

Could Jared Loughner have been 'pretreated' to avoid becoming wildly unstable? Will doctors have a new label to put on patients who are "at risk" for a psychosis related disorder like Schizophrenia revised DSM 5 is released? If doctors were somehow able to detect warning signs and begin preemptive treatment, would any of those doctors be available for patients who live in Arizona?

According to an article titled Early Antecedents and Detection of Schizophrenia there is a measurable way to predict who is at risk for developing psychotic behaviors.

The article begins by indicating a correlation between the amount of time between the onset of psychosis and the beginning of treatment. The following "fact" was discovered-the amount of time between the beginning of a psychotic episode has a direct relationship to the quality of life the patient is able to sustain. In other words, had Jared Loughner been treated for his alarming thoughts and erratic behaviors in 2010, he might not be where he finds himself today. Last week he was declared incompetent to stand trial for the violent and heart breaking "Tucson Shooting" for which he will forever be associated.

The article touches on different ideas about how best to identify, treat, prevent, and label patients who seem to be "at risk". Jared Loughner had many interactions with teachers and administrators that were identified as "concerning" and "alarming". Last week many local network news stations in Arizona ran feature stories about those incoherent messages, as well as a few messages sent between teachers complaining about how difficult it is to deal with "irrational" people.

So, who is to blame for the obvious lack of treatment in the case of Jared Loughner? Plenty of people will blame his parents, many blame faulty gun laws and the attitude of a state "chomping at the bit" to name an official handgun. Some blame privacy rights regarding medical history, some blame Sarah Palin - who advocated "taking out" anyone who voted a certain way. Some believe the State of Arizona is to blame for their extensive funding cuts on top nearly non-existent mental health programs.

In this inevitably murky bowl of blame...where are the teachers?

In Gilbert, that mom raising a son who falls into the "at risk" category thinks they all share the blame. Anyone who knew he was ''not well" could have (and should have) been an advocate for treatment.

The question of available treatment in Arizona is a different ball of wax.



Tracy Lynn Cook is a writer in Gilbert, Arizona. To read more, please visit her blog at, or browse by topic:

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Tracy can be found on and on Twitter @TLCsThoughts.


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