Clayton Cramer is the author of My Brother Ron, a book detailing his family's struggle to find treatment for his mentally ill brother. In this interview with KBTV, he outlines the connection between our inadequate mental health treatment "system" and recent shootings:
In the following clips Dr. E. Fuller Torrey, author of The Insanity Offense: How America's Failure to Treat the Seriously Mentally Ill Endangers Its Citizens, discusses the role of deinstitutionalization in violent crime. Dr. Torrey is a research psychiatrist specializing in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
It's important to remember that there is more at stake in this discussion than simply preventing another mass shooting. The homeless problem in the United States is largely a problem of untreated mental illness, for example. In addition, many experts agree that those with serious mental illness are more likely to harm themselves or their caregivers than massacre strangers. The chief victims of the shredding of our mental health system are the mentally ill. Finding ways to safely house, supervise and treat these patients is not an act of paranoia or vengeance; it's an act of love.
(To search the Preventable Tragedies Database that Dr. Fuller mentions, click here.)
Pete Earley, author of Crazy: A Father's Search America's Mental Health Madness discusses the use of prisons as defacto warehouses for the mentally ill:
Remember: One thing that James Holmes, Jared Loughner and Cho Seung-hui had in common was a lack of prior violent criminal convictions. In many states, the absence of a prior criminal record exempts the mentally ill from any form of supervision or state-sponsored treatment.
The folly of such a policy is on chilling display in The Mind of Kalebu, Eli Sander's investigative piece describing the history of Isaiah Kalebu, who went on to brutally rape two women at knife-point, murdering one:But the state has no organized program for keeping tabs on unstable people like Kalebu—people with no prior criminal convictions who have recently been diagnosed with serious psychological problems and charged with violent offenses but have been set free while they await trial...
... in the case of Kalebu, there's no program to reform. The mechanism for monitoring people like him cannot be fixed because it does not exist.
Finally, for the historically/statistically-minded, here are few links to timelines of school- or mass-shootings over the years:
Timeline of School Shootings- US News and World Report- this list was first posted in 2008 and begins with 2008 incidents, then works backward.
Timeline: Some of the worst mass shootings in the U.S. and the world- CTV News- This timeline includes attacks not connected to schools.
Timeline: Major U.S. School and College Shootings- Reuters- This list was posted in April 2012 and does not include more recent events such as the Newtown attack.
Deadly School Shootings in the Last 50 Years- USA Today- Less comprehensive, but interactive and includes photo documentation.