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Mass shootings highlight our failure in mental health

Mass shootings highlight our failure in mental health

We missed another killer. Twice. It’s still unclear what motivated the shooter in Uvalde, Texas, but the gruesome shootings in Buffalo, N.Y., allegedly by Payton Gendron, spotlight our ongoing failures to identify potentially dangerous and violent individuals. The Buffalo killings also remind us of how extremism and racism stain our society.

While the facts behind the Uvalde shooting still come in, let’s deconstruct what we know of the Buffalo case — and others — that illustrate all-too-common missteps and shortfalls.

I have advised many senior leaders and attorneys over several decades on cases of accused terrorists and violent men and women. I have seen individuals that are dangerous, and those that have injured and killed many innocent victims. And I have seen others that have been in the wrong place and said the wrong things at the wrong time. For too many years, I have witnessed that we have neglected to enact policies and procedures to mitigate violent shootings and the dangers to our communities.

Lessons to be learned: The case of Payton Gendron contrasts sharply with the case of Khaled Miah that went to trial last year. Payton Gendron is white and allegedly targeted Blacks in a heinous act of violence. Khaled Miah is Muslim and killed no one, nor even harmed any person or animal ever in his life, to my knowledge. The reports on Gendron point to signs and symptoms of serious mental illness that do not seem to have been properly diagnosed nor treated. In comparison, I diagnosed Miah with a serious mental illness, as I’ve testified in court, but he did not get treatment until he landed in jail. Getting treatment has profoundly improved Miah’s mental state.

Both Gendron and Miah had encounters with the mental health system that failed to adequately evaluate them and provide appropriate therapy and treatment. Their cases are textbook examples that effective mental health services are woefully lacking. Moreover, there were failures to coordinate law enforcement with mental health.

The signs of mental illness and propensity to violence that Gendron showed had reportedly been apparent for years — history of violence and cruelty to animals, short-term hospitalization, bizarre behavior (wearing a Hazmat suit to school) and increasing social isolation, not dismissing the alarming online rants about violence and declaring that his high school graduation school project had been committing murder-suicide. Gendron had been posting information online since February about committing mass killings and had expressed astonishment that law enforcement showed little interest. No wonder that Black Americans are aggrieved. The FBI and other law enforcement agencies did not track nor monitor Gendron’s activities despite the obvious signs of dangerousness that he showed. His case makes it appear that law enforcement has been too politicized, targeting non-whites.

The case of Khaled Miah stands out as the counterpoint….

Read Full Story At: The Hill.

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