Maggie Gallagher

We do know our mental health system makes it difficult for anyone to treat the adult mentally ill who lack insight into their own mental conditions and therefore do not wish treatment -- clearly the condition of the Tucson shooter, who complained he could not sleep and blamed the government for attempting mind control through grammar.

If you are a progressive, could you also take a second look at the right of mentally ill people to refuse treatment, especially if they are simultaneously drug abusers?

Recent studies of schizophrenia and violence confirm that a) most schizophrenic people are not violent, and b) schizophrenia increases the risk of violence -- especially when it is combined (as it often is by troubled young men seeking to self-medicate) with substance abuse.

A 2009 review of the international literature in the French journal Encephale concludes: "Schizophrenia increases the risk of violence by six- to 10-fold in men and eight- to 10-fold in women. Schizophrenia without alcoholism increased the odds ratio more than seven-fold; schizophrenia with coexisting alcoholism more than 17-fold in men."

If the horrible death of a 9-year-old girl is to have any redeeming meaning, it should lead to a better system to identify, disarm and treat mentally ill substance abusers before they kill.

Is that a goal we can come together to pursue?

Or is our climate of hate so entrenched that rather than seek solutions we prefer to say this is yet another reason to hate Sarah Palin?


Maggie Gallagher

Maggie Gallagher is a nationally syndicated columnist, a leading voice in the new marriage movement and co-author of The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially.