Isla Vista: California laws fail mentally ill

Published: Tuesday, May. 27, 2014 - 9:05 pm
Last Modified: Wednesday, May. 28, 2014 - 12:09 pm

Re "We must confront our inability or unwillingness to aggressively treat people with severe mental illness" (Editorial, May 27): Elliot Rodger's killing spree again demonstrates how California law fails the severely mentally ill and the public.

California relies on police to diagnose mental illness and dangerousness during brief welfare checks. They are easily fooled. Other states allow professionals to place 72 hour diagnostic holds on their patients who become dangerous. The police merely provide transport if needed. With better state laws, Rodger's therapist could have compelled his hospitalization based on his threatening video and psychiatric history. Reportedly, he had refused anti-psychotic medication and was hearing voices. Professional evaluators who have a clinical history are harder to fool than police. Rodger's parents could have searched his apartment for guns, and he might have gotten help. If current gun control laws worked, the psychiatric hospital could have stopped Rodgers from buying guns in the future, assuming he was hospitalized. But he wasn't, and they don't.

-- Mary Ann Bernard , Sacramento

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