It's About Mental Illness, Not Gun Laws

Aaron Alexis didn't get the care he needed: Charles Krauthammer
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 20, 2013 1:16 PM CDT
Updated Sep 20, 2013 1:34 PM CDT
It's About Mental Illness, Not Gun Laws
This undated photo provided by Kristi Kinard Suthamtewakul shows Aaron Alexis in Fort Worth, Texas.   (AP Photo/Kristi Kinard Suthamtewakul)

Don't blame the Navy Yard shooting on gun laws, blame it on the fact that Aaron Alexis didn't get the treatment for his mental illness that he so desperately needed, writes Charles Krauthammer in the Washington Post. Only a month prior, Alexis complained to the police about hearing voices and getting harassed by microwaves. "So here is this panic-stricken soul, psychotic and in terrible distress," writes Krauthammer, a former psychiatrist who once worked at Mass General. But what happens next? The officers file a report that goes nowhere and wash their hands of it.

Had he seen Alexis as a patient while he was still practicing as a psychiatrist, Krauthammer would have given him an anti-psychotic drug and released him only if he had people around to make sure he stayed on his meds. Barring that, Krauthammer would have committed him to a mental hospital for at least 14 days. Cruel? Just the opposite: "That’s what a compassionate society does," writes Krauthammer. "It would no more abandon this man to fend for himself than it would a man suffering a stroke." Used wisely, involuntary commitments can be best for everyone, the patient and society. "It's time we recalibrated the pendulum that today allows the mentally ill to die with their rights on—and, rarely but unforgivably, take a dozen innocents with them." Click for his full column. (More mental illness stories.)

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