Arizona Shooting Raises Questions About Help for Mental Illness - 8 News NOW

Arizona Shooting Raises Questions About Help for Mental Illness

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LAS VEGAS -- The shooting in Tucson, Arizona has people asking a lot of questions about the suspect Jared Lee Loughner. Some mental health issues are coming to light after former classmates and professors came forward to claim there were signs Loughner was mentally imbalanced.

Nevada's mental health director says this state ranks near the bottom of per person spending on services. And it's just about to get worse with deep budget cuts.

Jared Loughner's mindset and motives before the Tucson shooting are now under scrutiny. Those who know him these past years paint a picture of a mentally disturbed young man, describing his as ranting, destructive and threatening. Fellow students feared he might bring a gun to the school.

UNLV says they have about 100 students a year reported as mentally imbalanced. Loughner's Arizona Community College flagged him as a potential risk. At UNLV.

"We have a student of concern program that's really designed to respond proactively to these situations. Students and faculty can submit reports to us. These reports are viewed by professionals," said Jamie Davidson, UNLV psychologist.

Social workers, counselors and police officers can detain people for 72 hours if they think they'd be an immediate danger to themselves or others. It's called a Legal 2000 hold.

"This is the emergency last line of defense kind of thing," said Tim Bedwell, North Las Vegas Police Dept. 

"We get into situations quite often where people are at home, they're fed up with some family member and they can get them Legal 2000'ed. They'll call the police for that. That's inappropriate," he added. 

Link to see requirements of Legal 2000

Metro police say there are around 6,000 cases of mental health detainments every year. Those detainments last up to 72 hours and then the state may get involved if there's and issue.

State mental health services face a 14 percent cut and program eliminations this year which is in addition to cuts they have suffered in previous years. UMC's Emergency Chief Dale Carrison spoke to the I-Team last fall about the backlog.

"We've medically cleared them. Now, there's a big line, and if southern Nevada adult mental health for some reason can't turn the patients over, than it builds up."

Nevada's budget cuts this year are likely to include mental health court.  It's a program designed to get convicted mental ill people into treatment programs so jail is not their only option.

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