What were warning signs from shooter before Tucson attack?

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by Brandy Aguilar, Special Projects

azfamily.com

Posted on January 13, 2011 at 1:59 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 14 at 5:57 PM

Investigators say Tucson shooting suspect Jared Loughner appeared mentally unstable at the time of the shootings, but were there any warning signs?

“When I was a young cop on the beat, we put mentally ill people who were threats into a system that incarcerated them,” Sheriff Clarence Dupnik with Pima County said. Today their out there on the street and we're paying a price for it.”

Ever since the deadly shooting in Tucson there has been speculation that suspect Jared Loughner may have struggled with mental issues. This stems from reports of bizarre behavior while attending community college to his ramblings and videos posted online.

While we will find out more in the coming weeks surrounding this 22-year-old, the question remains, were there obvious warning signs?
  
“What I understand, from what I picked up in the media, is he was having difficulty even in high school all the way into community college,” psychotherapist Carol Markson said. “So people we're seeing that there were problems all along the way.”

Markson is with Central Valley Psychotherapy. She said while people may see issues in certain individuals’ a lot of times they just don't know where to turn.

“All of these conditions coming together created this perfect storm, which set the situation up for something like this to happen,” Markson continued. “We need to educate people. People aren't educated on how to respond to a situation like this.”

Besides not knowing where to find help, Markson said things need to change when it comes to Arizona's mental health care system. Our state is just one of many that have made deep cuts to some of its services due to budget issues.

“It's very frustrating for me as a mental health provider to not have resources available to provide people, to refer them to and I see people deteriorate when that's not necessary,” Markson said.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness gave our state's mental health care system a C in 2009. This was an improvement from its D grade in 2006.
 
“We either pay now or we pay later,” Markson said. “The cost to try this person, to investigate this situation, to incarcerate this person is so astronomical to what it would cost to provide better mental health services.”

While we can't change the tragic events in Tucson, Markson said we can move forward in getting people to start talking at a state and national level to make sure this doesn't happen again.

“We have to make mental health a priority,” Markson said. I think we all have to have a collective responsibility in noticing when someone is in trouble and finding out what the next step is.”

 

Resources:

 

-National, confidential, anonymous site for troubled teens to talk with a couselor: teencentral.net.

-Community Information and Referral Helpling - a clearing house of information with a 24-hour help line to direct people to the proper resource. Maricopa County: 602-263-8856 and other counties: 1-800-352-3792.

-Banner Behavioral Health - a 24-hour crisis helpling by calling 602-254-HELP (4357).

-Family Service Agency - a non-profit community agency that offers counseling. 602-532-0777

-Interfaith Counseling Service - 602-532-0777

-Jewish Family and Children's Agency provides counseling services to anyone. 602-256-0528.

-EMPACT - a suicide/crisis hotline - 480-784-1500.

 

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