Tuesday, April 24, 2007

diagnosis? "crazy"

Virginia Governor Tim Kaine has been lauded for acting quickly to set up a panel to investigate what led to the 33 deaths at Virginia Tech last Monday. How did the gunman manage to elude the treatment he needed? Did the law enforcement officers respond appropriately or did their handling of the first set of murders allow the second set to occur?

I appreciate Pete Earley's op ed in this morning's Washington Post, as it criticizes the fact that Kaine neglected to name a panel member "who has publicly struggled with a debilitating mental illness". Earley, who is the father of a mentally ill son, accurately points out that many people only see mentally ill people when they "are clearly psychotic or has been abandoned on our streets".

While there is no need to make excuses for what Seung Hui Cho did, he was clearly a sick young man who did not receive the care he needed. And the stigma that contributed to that reality is being brought to the surface once again with the murders. (I held back on Sunday from posting a rant about Barack Obama's quote, "We're selling guns to crazy people." Is that the medical term, Senator Obama?) A mentally ill panel member would be able to help others to understand, writes Earley, "what barriers persons who have mental disorders see when it comes to getting help."

I'm all for it. Governor Kaine?

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