The shootings of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 18 others in Tucson a year ago highlighted the issue of getting care for people with untreated mental illness who are dangerous. It hasn’t settled the question of how to do so most effectively and fairly, says the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Jared Loughner, 23, awaits trial while a federal judge decides whether authorities can forcibly administer medication for his schizophrenia.
In Wisconsin, a committee is recommending changes to the state’s commitment laws, including ways to reduce the number of patients who are brought into hospitals by police and to clarify laws to allow parents more control over the care of their children. “This is such an urgent issue,” said Lucinda Roy, a professor at Virginia Tech and adviser to Seung-Hui Cho, who ignored a court order for psychiatric treatment and killed 32 students and faculty members in 2007 before killing himself. The Journal Sentinel is sponsoring a forum this week on ways to identify better those who are dangerous because of their mental illness and to get them help before they do harm to themselves or others. The forum follows the newspaper’s series on the subject.