So many who have seen the reports of Jared Loughner’s descent into mental illness prior to the shootings have wondered: Couldn’t something have been done? College professors, administrators and students knew something was seriously wrong long before the tragic day; his parents in all likelihood did as well. Even if — as the data demonstrate — acts of violence by the mentally ill are rare, here was someone clearly in need of help. Many may wonder why he did not receive it.
The reality of our mental health system — and the huge challenges facing those trying to get treatment for the people who need it most — is the subject of a fantastic Fred Friendly Seminar, Minds on the Edge: Facing Mental Illness. I had the honor of writing the scenarios for the program.
Although it was produced over a year ago, those watching it today will assume it was created in the wake of Tucson: The program opens with a professor — played by Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer — struggling with the realization that one of his best students may be slipping into mental illness.
Because this compelling program discusses some of the most important questions raised by the Tucson tragedy, it was featured on PBS Newshour on Tuesday, and many PBS stations will be re-broadcasting it in the coming weeks. You will find some of the listings after the jump. Or you can watch the program online here.