Originally Posted by scrubcedar
I've listened as one parent talked about the possible need to shoot his own child when that child was released from jail in order to protect the rest of the family. The child had been quite clear that he intended to kill them upon his release.
You can tell me that there is no test for this and I will agree. You can tell me that to lock people up using our current state of knowledge is a little nuts in and of itself, and I'll tell you you are talking sense.
At some point it becomes obvious, even to a layman, that a certain person is dangerous.
Let me assure you as things sit there is no good way to handle this, and if there were a great deal of these problems would have been handled before there was bloodshed.
Actually, there's a fairly straightforward way of handling this. Most states, if not all, have laws against making terroristic threats or criminal threats. If someone has actually threatened violence in the presence of witnesses, whether against parents, schoolmates, or others, he's committed a crime
, and the question of mental illness (and the terminology thereof
) is secondary. Charge them under those statutes and let the legal system sort out whether to jail them or commit them.
In any case, the first step is to report the person's behavior to authorities; then it's on those authorities to do their job. In hindsight, it's clear that Pima Community College dropped the ball with Jared Loughner, allowing him to withdraw rather than involving the police and/or mental health system after students and faculty reported his bizarre and threatening behavior. The same is true of the state of Virginia with respect to Seung-Hui Cho: had the state followed the Federally mandated requirement
to report that he had been adjudicated mentally ill, things might have turned out differently in that case.
It's probably useful to focus on ways of improving the existing system, including adequately funding mental health care, and unifying and enforcing reporting requirements. It's not useful to play armchair diagnostician, especially after the fact.