(1-13-16) FROM MY FILES FRIDAY – Next week, I will be posting a blog about the recent shooting inside the Fort Lauderdale airport, but today I am reposting an Op Ed of mine published by The Washington Post on September 27, 2013 after a similar rampage at the Washington Navy Yard here in D.C. These shootings continue to spark frustration and anger but little preventive action. This editorial garnered about 100 comments, many agreeing but others strongly challenging my views.)
Getting the mentally ill the help they need
By Pete Earley, published in The Washington Post
When should society intervene if a person shows signs of mental illness?
As with the shooters at Virginia Tech, in Tucson and in Aurora, Colo., there were ample warnings that Aaron Alexis was experiencing mental distress before he killed 12 people at Washington’s Navy Yard.
Police in Newport, R.I., did nothing to help Alexis when he complained about hearing voices and being zapped by skin-vibrating microwaves.
In 1975, the Supreme Court ruled in O’Connor v. Donaldson that the state “cannot constitutionally confine. . . a non-dangerous individual who is capable of surviving safely in freedom by himself or with the help of willing and responsible family members or friends.”
That decision established our legal threshold of posing a danger to one’s self or others.