KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

School Shootings Raise Questions About Adequacy, Availability of Mental Health Care

President Barack Obama said at a prayer service Sunday that he would engage in a dialogue with all Americans, including law enforcement and mental health professionals, about how to curb rising gun violence, but psychiatrists say it's difficult to identify who among the mentally ill is likely to be truly dangerous.

ABC News: Connecticut School Shooting Leaves Nation With ‘Some Hard Questions,’ Obama Says
President Barack Obama said at an interfaith prayer service in this mourning community this evening that the country is “left with some hard questions” if it is to curb a rising trend in gun violence, such as the shooting spree Friday at Newtown’s Sandy Hook Elementary School. After consoling victims’ families in classrooms at Newtown High School, the president said he would do everything in his power to “engage” a dialogue with Americans, including law enforcement and mental health professionals, because “we can’t tolerate this anymore" (Tapper, 11/17).

Buffalo News: Better Care For Mentally Ill Won't Be Enough, Experts Say
For a nation of millions of broken hearts grasping for something, anything, to prevent yet another schoolhouse slaughter, the solution sounds simple: If we could just get the mentally ill the proper care, then the nation would be spared the agony of one more Newtown. The trouble is, that’s too simple a solution, and one that’s unlikely to work on its own, psychiatrists say. ... [they] say it’s nearly impossible to identify who among the mentally ill is truly dangerous, and that any effort to do so will only further stigmatize a category of illness where many people already shun treatment out of embarrassment and fear. And there’s one last important fact: The vast majority of mentally ill people are not prone to violence (Zremski, 11/16).

St. Louis Beacon: Blunt Calls For More Focus On Mental-Health Issues, In Response To School Shootings
U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., says there's no question that the Connecticut murders of 20 school children and six educators is "a huge tragedy." But Blunt, in St. Louis on Saturday, said the question of a response "is a lot more complicated" than calls to ban assault weapons or to put in place other gun-control measures. ... Blunt said a [more] productive discussion than gun control could center on how to better monitor people with mental or emotional problems, which investigators say appear to have been suffered by the shooter, 20-year-old Adam Lanza (Mannies and Koenig, 12/16).

NPR: Shooting Raises Issues Of Mental Health, Treatment
[P]eople have been carrying out mass murderers for centuries. And researchers have been studying those people for almost as long, trying to come up with some kind of a profile of mass murderers; some way to identify somebody who is likely to commit this sort of crime. And for the most part they failed. I mean, yes, mass murderers tend to be young and male and angry and troubled. But think about how many young people fit that description in this country (Hamilton, 12/16).

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