After writing the previous entry in this blog, I read that Arizona is one of a very few states that has a law that enables any citizen to report someone who seems to have mental issues, seems unstable or otherwise a cause for concern--for them or the community--and the state is then required to assess that person and take appropriate action to get them the help they need, even to incarcerate them in a mental health facility if necessary.
HOWEVER....and this is huge, in the last year over 45% of the Arizonans who were receiving any kind of treatment or aid from the state's mental health agencies..........were dropped. Of course, Jan Brewer, the new conservative governor, and her legislators who all have decided that state budgets are out of control and must be slashed, have done this in the name of fiscal responsibility. And, while that is a real consideration, the trade-off would seem to be one of potentially severe and painful problems erupting in a society that has decided to deny help where it would clearly be needed and make a vast difference.
The fact remains: NOBODY who knew that Jared Loughner was acting weird and disturbingly took advantage of this law and brought him to the attention of state or city agencies that could have made a difference.
Until we start caring about each other in a way that seems impossibly remote right now, we can expect the increased isolation of troubled individuals to inflict greater and greater pain on ALL OF US. The "not my problem" attitude has become not only callous and cynical, but very painful to our society at large.