“Treating Mental Illness Seriously”

Former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who survived an assassination attempt in 2011, is set to tour a New York gun show, the first such visit since she was shot.

Giffords and husband Mark Kelly, a former combat pilot and astronaut, are scheduled to be with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman at the Saratoga Springs Arms Fair on Sunday to highlight a voluntary agreement and stricter state gun control law.

It will be latest event by Giffords and Kelly in their national campaign for expanded background checks for gun sales.

via CSMonitor.com.

Some people may blame guns for what happened to Giffords, but I blame the fact that, although Loughner was known to have serious mental health issues, the law prevented any of the many people who saw the problem from being able to solve that problem.

People tried to get this man help. The real scandal is that they could not do so.

Before Miriam Carey drove her car into a White House gate, led police on a car chase to the Capitol, and was shot dead to protect public safety, her boyfriend tried to prevent it from ever happening.

According to CNN, he “contacted police in December saying he feared for the safety of their child, who was 4 months old at the time. The boyfriend said the woman was acting delusional, claiming the president had placed Stamford under lockdown and that her house was under electronic surveillance.” He thought she had post-partum depression, but police found medications for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression in her home.

The most likely scenario is that Miriam was not taking the medications or they weren’t working. Either way, someone who was dangerous was on the streets.

We know how to stop this. What we need is mandatory and monitored community treatment for those known to have serious mental illness and a history of dangerousness, incarceration, or needless repeated hospitalizations.

Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) is a court order to stay in treatment as a condition of living in the community. To be eligible, individuals must have serious mental illness and a past history of dangerousness, incarceration, or needless hospitalizations caused by going off effective treatments. The decision is made by a judge, and only after consulting with the patient, their lawyer and observing full due process. Other protections ensure it is rarely used, is time limited, and is not abused.

According to media reports, Miriam Carey had a prior psychiatric hospitalization and acted dangerously toward her four-month-old child. While not enough is known yet, she may have been eligible for AOT. But Connecticut, where she lived, does not have an AOT law.

New York State has the largest and most studied program, called Kendra’s Law. Studies found those enrolled in Kendra’s Law are four times less likely to engage in future violence than those in a control group. Other New York studies found it reduced homelessness by 74 percent; suicide attempts, 55 percent; substance abuse, 48 percent; physical harm to others, 47 percent; property destruction, 43 percent; hospitalization, 77 percent; arrests, 83 percent; and incarceration, 87 percent. These results are consistent with those in other localities that use it.

By reducing the use of jails and locked psych wards as treatment settings, AOT saves a lot of money even accounting for the increased costs for court proceedings, case management, and prescriptions…

via National Review Online.

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