VA Tech 

From: Stacy Fiedler <[email protected]>
Date: Fri, 20 Apr 2007 15:56:15 -0400

Subject: VA Tech

Our executive director, Mary Zdanowicz can provide information and insight into mental health laws and barriers to treatment.  As you many know, many people misunderstand their state’s law for getting involuntary treatment for someone who is severely ill.  For instance, in Virginia, it is reported that a professor had reached out to college counselors and even local police to get help for the 23-year old Virginia Tech gunman, Cho Seung-Hui, but she was told that state law prevented them from acting.
As you know from covering mental health issues, there are tragedies nearly everyday involving a person with severe mental illness who was not getting appropriate treatment.  Just this week, the following tragedies involving untreated severe mental illness touched the lives of many:
·        In Roanoke, VA, a man with bipolar disorder who was off his medication raised a samurai sword at police officers.  The police fatally shot him. (Roanoke Times, April 20)
·        In Akron, OH, a man with bipolar disorder engaged officers in an hour long stand-off as he held a knife to his own throat. (Akron Beacon Journal, April 20)
·         In California, a mentally ill man stabbed his mother to death.  He was bipolar and had stopped taking his medication. (Press Enterprise, April 18)
·        In Mississippi, a young man with severe mental illness was shot to death by police officers who thought he was armed while he was acting strangely. (WJTV April 17)
As these and many other stories like them make clear, the results of Cho’s untreated mental illness are unusual only in that he massacred so many people. But what happened to Cho is not so uncommon.  Until we have broader understanding about the consequences of not treating mental illnesses – and the tools to help, like assisted outpatient treatment – the tragedies will continue.
As you continue to cover the Virginia Tech tragedy and other stories on mental illness, please let us know if there is any further information we can provide.
Stacy Fiedler
Treatment Advocacy Center
200 N Glebe Road, Suite 730
Arlington, VA 22203
703-294-6003 – phone
703-294-6010 – fax
[email protected] – email – blog