Like many, over the past few days I've been balancing the urge to consume non-stop media coverage of the tragedy in Tucson with the need to do other things in life. The events have transfixed a nation because they have multiple meanings: Have political battles gone too far? What should we do about gun control? More existential issues, too, like cosmic injustice in the death of a child born on September 11, 2001.
All of these questions and considerations are important. But one of the least considered questions has been: What about mental health care?
As I've spoken with friends and colleagues who work in the mental health field, I've heard everyone say that it's clear that Jared Lee Loughner is struggling with mental health issues. Laurie Flynn, executive director of TeenScreen National Center for Mental Health Checkups, makes a particularly articulate argument for viewing this tragedy as connected to mental health in a blog post.
About Loughner she says: "We don't know if he has a mental illness or if he ever received a diagnosis, got the help he needed or accepted help that was offered. What seems clear is that a troubled adolescent grew into a deeply disturbed young man."