Could An Improved Mental Health System Stop The Next Elliot Rodger?

by Igor Volsky, May 27 2014

As the nation is still reeling from Elliot Rodger’s horrific shooting spree that left six people and the assailant dead on Friday, lawmakers are searching for ways to help authorities better identify and treat mentally unstable individuals who may be a threat to themselves or others.

Police deputies visited Rodger just weeks before Friday’s murder spree, but judged that he was not a danger to himself or others. As criminologist Jeffrey Butts explained to ThinkProgress, “Police are trained not to react too aggressively to the mentally ill and to avoid arrests if at all possible. In the past, people with mental illness were too often arrested for simply behaving strangely and not responding to instructions when confronted by police. Last week’s shooting in Santa Barbara reflects a problem at the opposite end of the spectrum — the failure to intervene when mental health issues are not obvious.” He added that mental health professionals should have accompanied law enforcement. “Multi-disciplinary teams are now standard practice in many areas of the country. Indeed, some California counties have implemented the team approach, including San Diego County, just a short drive from Santa Barbara,” he said.


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