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Until Mental Health Services Are Improved, Tucson-Like Mass Murders Will Not End

Statement by E. Fuller Torrey, M.D. and Sidney Wolfe, M.D.

Unless two predictors of mass murder are addressed and changed, the United States will continue to lead all developed countries in the number of people killed by inadequately diagnosed or treated people with serious mental illness.
The first predictor is the appalling state of provision of services for the seriously mentally ill in this country, resulting in the sad specter of thousands of people with untreated delusional, often paranoid thinking who seek revenge on people they believe are harming them.
The second predictor, which facilitates a clear mechanism for people acting on their disturbed beliefs, is the easy availability of guns to almost anyone.
This deadly combination leads to the seemingly endless number of lives lost in frequent outbreaks of mass murder, making the notion of Homeland Security, directed only at the more traditional kind of terrorism, seem to be a grossly deficient effort.
Until serious attention, at a national and state level, is directed at providing much better care for the seriously mentally ill and controlling the proliferation of guns, there will be many more Tucsons.
Dr. Torrey is an internationally known expert in schizophrenia and director of the Stanley Research Foundation, which funds work concerning serious mental illness. Dr. Wolfe is the director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, which has collaborated with Dr. Torrey in studies comparing of the provision of state services for the seriously mentally ill.