Tag Archives: why do schizophrenics kill people?

Lingering questions about the Giffords shooting and Jared Loughner

In no particular order.

What the hell is Jared Loughner’s story? He appears to be a paranoid schizophrenic. Schizophrenia is a disease that first appears in the late teens or early twenties.

Loughner dropped out of high school in nearby Marana after his junior year, according to the school district. He got into the community college through a program aimed at helping high school dropouts transition to community colleges, Pima’s president told CNN.

His dropping out would’ve have been consistent with either becoming increasingly unglued, or — worse — having his first psychotic break. If his family merely tried to tough it out and convalesce him at home, as opposed to getting him long-term psychiatric support and medication, that might explain his later exhibiting the sort of chronic behavior that unnerved or terrified virtually everybody that he came into contact with.

Why do paranoid schizophrenics kill people? That’s a mystery for the ages. Some combination of vulnerability and agitation. A need to make things right, somehow? Or a need to change things? Or a need to make public their perceived extra-worldly powers? You can see, when someone keeps saying they can control others’ thoughts and feelings, even their religious beliefs, as Jared did, that they feel like supermen. Being ignored or laughed at might be too much to take.

How did he manage to shoot so many people so quickly? Other than some obvious answers — he used a semi-automatic handgun, a Glock 19, which is easy to conceal and to use — how is it that the numbers of dead and wounded were so high? A key: he purchased a high-capacity magazine for the attack. Using that, he could squeeze off 30 or more shots as fast as he could pull the trigger. That’s how he could hit 20, killing 6, in a matter of a few seconds.

Those high-capacity magazines aren’t illegal? Not any more. They were previously illegal under Clinton’s Assault Weapons Ban of 1994. No new magazines of more than 10 round capacity were allowed to be sold in the U.S. When the law sunseted in 2004, under the Bush administration, the NRA got their wishes. Senator Lautenberg of New Jersey wants to re-enact the ban: I think it’s a good idea. Who the hell really needs to get off 30, or 33, rounds in a matter of seconds? Loughner was disabled after he emptied the first clip and reached for his second. That may have saved lives. If he were forced to use a 10 or 15 round magazine, even more lives could’ve been saved.

Where the hell are his family? Why didn’t they do something to get this guy some mental health support? They weren’t in court today — who knows if they’ll ever show up? And you probably already know why: how could they do so little to help out their schizophrenic son? If you’re familiar with how schizophrenic family members are perceived, you know that nobody was more keenly aware of Jared’s massive problems with society, his co-hort and reality than his parents and siblings. They knew painfully well that Jared was severely mentally ill, but they apparently did little of consequence about it: his chronically frightening and inappropriate behavior across years bears that out. I’d say his suffering demonstrates a contempt for the well being of a precious family member and for society at large. Stay tuned as the media, while the days mount and the anger rises, find it convenient to hunt down the family members and grill them. Can’t say the family haven’t earned it. Can say that dealing with a severely ill son or brother is brutally difficult, and the Loughners should be treated with some dignity. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Fox go after them pretty directly.