Violence and Mental Illness: Is Loughner a Case for Involuntary Commitment?

Loughner never received mental health counseling despite friends' concerns.

ByABC News
January 11, 2011, 4:47 PM

Jan. 12, 2011— -- In the aftermath of Saturday's shooting rampage in Tucson, Ariz., that left six dead and 14 wounded, recent reports that alleged shooter Jared Lee Loughner, 22, refused a mental health evaluation after his friends and college administrators expressed worry over the state of his mental health loom large.

Many who interacted with Loughner at Pima Community College believed he was mentally unwell and potentially dangerous. Loughner was suspended after several run-ins with the campus police and the discovery of a disturbing YouTube video, the school said in a statement. He was told his return was contingent on receiving clearance from a mental health professional, but Loughner apparently did not seek help and school officials could not force him to do so.

Like the acts of mass violence perpetrated by schizophrenic unabomber Ted Kaczynski, Loughner's shooting rampage may spur debate over what should be done about people with undiagnosed, untreated mental illness who might pose a danger to society.

Mental health professionals worry that incidents like the Tucson massacre may only spur further stigma against the mentally ill, falsely bolstering an association between violence and mental illness.