The Arizona rampage and massacres like it are on the rise because of a decades-long deterioration in mental health care provided by the states, a psychiatrist writes in The Wall Street Journal.
E. Fuller Torrey, a schizophrenia researcher and author, writes that these "increasingly common" violent outbursts have roots in the 1960s, when states began
shuttering mental hospitals en masse to save money but left released patients with too few options for continued treatment.
"By the 1980s, the results were evident — increasing numbers of seriously mentally ill persons among the homeless population and in the nation's jails and prisons," Dr. Torrey writes.
A small but significant number of those people, not all of them homeless or incarcerated, pose a threat of harm to others. Dr. Torrey describes the Arizona shooter, Jared Lee Loughner, as a likely case in point — a product of untreated mental illness, not heated political rhetoric. He also argues that the states must protect society from the dangerously disturbed and, when necessary, force hospitalization on sick individuals who defy court-ordered treatment.
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