The Phaserl


Spin Wheels, Do Nothing (Mental Illness and Violence)

by Karl Denninger, Market-Ticker:

Oh do come on….

The Wall Street Journal printed a series of OpEds and letters over the last few days related to the issues surrounding mentally ill people who either shoot others or themselves.  In true form for Washington DC there is also now a bill pending, HR 2646 that spends an awful lot of energy on words but little else.

Let me stipulate that yes, mental health is a serious issue.  Let me also stipulate that some of the insanity is found directly in Washington DC, including constraints on inpatient psychiatric treatment under Medicare and Medicaid.

But let me note, for the record, that all the arm-waving contained in that bill will do exactly nothing to address the salient issues that appear to be tied to the “rage monster” attacks of the last 20 or so years, which are:

  • The use of psychotropic prescription medications in subparts of the population where they are known to enhance the risk of extreme violence, either against oneself or others, absent 24×7 monitoring where such incipient acts can be detected and deterred.  Specifically, in patients age 15-25 all drugs in the “SSRI” class have a black-label warning about such risks.  Despite these black box warnings and publications related to same there has been zero action taken to curtail their use.
  • The provision of “Target Rich Environments” for people who are whacked out of their mind due to mental illness, whether potentiated by these drugs or not, and are seeking a place to vent their extreme rage.  I am of course referring to so-called “gun free zones” that are a loud and clear calling card for such people.

Is there any good in the cited bill?  Yes.  FERPA and HIPPA, for example, generally prohibit any adult’s medical or educational information from being released to any third party, including a care-giver, without the person’s explicit permission.  This bill provides an exception for care-givers when a diagnosed mental illness exists and said care-giver’s involvement is critical to their mental health.  I’m not sure whether the line drawn here is in the right place — my first-blush look says it beats what amounts to “essentially never”, which is current law.

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