On Sunday, Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman called for “a national commission on violence” in the wake of the Newtown massacre. The commission would look at the country’s mental health system, as well as gun laws and other factors. Could better access to mental health services help prevent future tragedies? We discuss mental illness, public policy and the psychology of mass murderers.

Melissa Nau, medical director of psychiatric emergency services at San Francisco General Hospital and assistant clinical professor at UCSF
Greg Sancier, danger assessment consultant for law enforcement agencies and the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force
John Greene, board certified psychiatrist and teacher of psychiatry and the law at the Stanford School of Medicine

  • Slappy

    To bring up the idea that guns need more regulation is offensive, idiotic, and short-sighted. It does a disservice to people who are in dire need of psychological help, who suffer so tremendously that they are driven to commit heinous crimes, such as the murder of children. To provide an analogy, it’s like banning individual foods (processed sugar, rice, foul, etc.) in order to combat obesity. It does absolutely nothing to address the problem at hand.

    The problem is not even whether health care should be more accessible and more affordable, because that in and of itself does nothing to address the real problem: the fact that we don’t have ENOUGH of it. Health care in general, and mental health care especially, is expensive because there is not enough competition. There is not enough competition because there is not enough care being offered. We need to ask ourselves “Why do we not have enough resources, so as to truly make it available and affordable for more people?”, and not pass some ridiculous, feel-good law that in the end does more harm than good.

    The “assault weapons ban” should not even be considered. Our weapons exist to protect us from crazed gunmen and from the Federal Government. Does anyone even remember WHY our Constitution exists? Why should our rights suffer because of our nation’s inability to help individuals in need before it’s too late?

  • Frank

    The US government has operated a brainwashing program called MK-ULTRA for decades, which has certainly produced some of the mass killers that we have seen in recent years. It is entirely in the interest of the 0.01% that run this country and own so much of it to have more of these killings, because their goal is a society that is not free. They want us to be terrorized, either by native bogeymen or foreign ones of their creation, so that they can chip away at our freedoms bit by bit, until they have totalitarian control. This goal of theirs is also why they have built a surveillance state that is, according to NSA whistle blowers, gathering two orders of magnitude more data about citizens than the Stasi ever did.

  • Mark P

    In June Governor Brown used his Line Item Veto power to cut the “Early Mental Health Initiative” that had already been approved. The Program helped students experiencing mild-to-moderate school adjustment difficulty. EMHI served over 15,823 students in FY 2010-11 and has proved to be effective with a success rate of 79% improvement connected to this intervention. It time to add this program back to the budget before it is to late.

  • Tom L

    whole argument for allowing school personnel to be armed is so
    simplistic. Which school staffers should/can bring guns to school? Who
    trains them? How do you guarantee that a disgruntled/stressed school staffer
    doesn’t perpetrate the next mass shooting? How does a teacher protect
    his or her children during a shutdown and pull/load a weapon at the same

  • Bob

    A friend of mine who lives in Japan mentioned a recent attack in a school there. Like in Connecticut, there was a psychopath who was intent on hurting children in a school, but due to tougher gun laws, he was only armed with a knife. The result? 20 hurt children, not 20 dead children with multiple gunshot wounds.

  • I am currently interning at Access Institute, a community mental health clinic that provides quality low fee mental health services to individuals that, otherwise, would have no access to therapeutic services. As the cry went out last week for increased gun control, my colleagues and I were, instead, sending out the cry for increased mental health services. In recent decades, governmental policies have stripped clinics of the ability to provide high quality mental health care and insurance policies have reduced the ability of psychologists to provide extensive care for those who need it. Our political system is quick to severe the link between cause and effect. This is a trend that leads to increased violence, increased poverty and an inability to get to the root of the problem. I am so grateful to Michael Krasny for his continued efforts to address this issue in a variety of ways!

  • A national gun registration act could be part of the solution. It would require gun owners to register all guns. All gun sales or gun theft would have to be reported within a specific amount of days. If a sale or a stolen gun is not reported and used in a crime the registered owner is complicit. The gun registrations act would not allow the government to take guns from legal owners. When unregistered guns surface, they would be confiscated. A small fee would pay for the program.

  • Charlie B

    The genie is out of the bottle in terms of guns. We cannot take them back or limit them. However, why can we not limit access to ammunition? Of course, we cannot remove ammunition already on the shelves, but, over time, limiting access to clips that allow rapid firing, or taking assault weapon ammunition off the shelves would limit use.

  • Todd Milliken

    what does it say about our aspirations if our best answer becomes – our teachers should be armed?

    • Yes, it is easy to put band-aids on cancer. It is also easy to project our inner demons out into the world as in “the war on terrorism”. It is far more difficult to admit that as a nation we have serious problems, to look inside our national psyche and start working on our collective healing.

  • The shooter was obviously unstable. What about identifying those with mental illness and providing them treatment?

  • Elise Proulx

    Someone whose email was read online just mentioned a new group called SAFE – Semi Automatic Free Environment. Any more info?

  • Cathy

    Re the proposal to arm teachers: as an early childhood educator, I say ABSOLUTELY NOT. My job is to love, teach, and nurture children. I cannot do my job while simultaneously having to worry about how to safely store a gun and ammunition in my classroom or weigh the pros and cons of using it against a potential threat vs focusing on reassuring and protecting my children during a crisis, as the heroic teachers in Newtown did. It is our collective responsibility to keep our schools and communities safe so that I can do my job. Don’t ask me to carry a gun. Just take them out of circulation so that you don’t even have to think about asking me to.

    PS I enjoy target shooting (although I don’t own a gun…I rent one at the range) and would happily give it up in one second if guns were banned.

    • Right on Cathy. Teachers have my undivided respect. They deserve much more support and respect from society. My wife is a high school teacher at a prestigious high school. Even there many kids come to her to share their pain. She has to say i have to report anything you tell me or risk losing my job. The kids have no where to turn and have to carry their own pain. Counseling positions have all been chopped years ago and kids cannot get the support they need. We fail as a society! We blame schools for not raising our children and do not give the schools the resources and support needed to do the best job. Then we give the military all the credit cards! Is it any wonder that mental illness is rampant?!

  • GiorgioOrwell2nd

    I guarantee you the same people funding the NRA and being militant about gun rights are the same people that supported gutting government spending in mental health in the name of “small government”. You can’t have a nation as armed to the teeth as we are and have a gutted mental health care system and not expect these incidents. One without the other is just plain stupid. The two countries that pro-gun advocates love to quote, Switzerland and Israel, both have strong mental health safety nets and very restrictive gun ownership regulations.
    Also, do pro-gun advocates seriously think that we would have more than 11,000 homicides by gun a year if gun ownership was heavily resitricted? The only countries that compare to our levels of homicide by gun are Venezuela, Brazil, and South Africa. Great company indeed.

    • Astute and on the Mark! We refuse to acknowledge that as a nation we have a large and growing population which is mentally unstable. Denial will not get us anywhere. This situation will only start to improve if we take it from the grassroots all the way to the president bringing the inner beast into the light.

  • Elizabeth Finkler

    I’m thinking of a case in my home town of Philadelphia in which two neighbors got into a quarrel over a parking space. One man finally went into his house, brought out his gun, and shot his neighbor. I can’t help thinking that if neither man had had a gun, the incident would have ended with black eyes and bloody noses and angry wives, but no one dead or in prison.

    • InfringedUpon

      Because he couldn’t have done that with an axe, Bat, knife, chainsaw, rake, shovel, etc? The gun wasn’t the problem, the man who resorted to violence over a petty dispute was and regardless of what he used to perpetuate that violence he belongs in jail because he cannot be trusted not to resort to violence over other trivial matters in the future.

      • Elizabeth Finkler

        Well, yes, one can kill someone with a bat, knife, rake or shovel. One can even use fists. But it requires getting close to the target and more physical strength and skill, and takes longer. The guy would have had time to consider whether killing his neighbor was really the best course of action.

        • Beth Grant DeRoos

          Elizabeth Finkler, Heck the guy could have stood on his porch and used a hunting bow and arrow and killed the guy.

          • Samuel1956

            Great!!! If you want to trade in your AR-15 for a bow and arrow, this is something we can also take to Congress. You obviously feel that a bow and arrow is as lethal as an AR-15, so please accept a bow and arrow in place of your AR-15.

          • Beth Grant DeRoos

            Tenzin, My comment was meant for Elizabeth Finkler which I have edited my comments for.

            She had written ‘Yes, one can kill someone with a bat, knife, rake or shovel. One can even use fists. But it requires getting close to the target and more physical strength and skill, and takes longer.’

            I was simply noting that a hunting bow/arrow which can take down a deer/elk,bear can kill a human a block away.

          • InfringedUpon

            Tenzin, because you can buy a VW beetle does that mean it’s OK to ban you from purchasing a Altima, Corvette, or F-150? I mean they both get you from here to there right?

        • InfringedUpon

          He didn’t have time to reconsider his course of action while he was walking to his house to retrieve the handgun? Or while he was loading it, taking aim, or before pulling the trigger?

      • Samuel1956

        Great!! We are getting somewhere. Then, you would be in support of denying a weapons permit to anyone who uses physical violence, even once in his life? Please answer, because if this is something we can agree on, we can take it to Congress.

        • InfringedUpon

          Felons are already prohibited from purchasing firearms. There is nothing to be changed here.

  • Gordon Lithgow

    Dunbane, Scotland had a very similar incident years ago by the gun club member. The response was spot on; close gun clubs, ban even Olympic sports guns, get large fences around all schools. Are SCottish kids safer? Yes. Is Scotland a less country than the USA? Not a bit.

    • Beth Grant DeRoos

      Scotland is also a small country, same ethnic/race country, where the citizens have a similar mind set, and no constitution that guarantees the right to own firearms.

  • Guest

    I and many people I know are fed up with what we consider assinine and irrational arguments against gun control. Why do we even give these people voice? They are lunatics.

  • catherine

    What to do if you know someone who fits the profile of a mass murderer? I know someone like this…if I knew he were buying weapons/fertilizer/etc I would call 911 right away. But I don’t…I just know he’s angry about his place in life, takes no responsibility, takes it out on family members by verbally abusing them, etc. When these mass shootings have happened in the past he’s said somrthing like ‘i know why these guys do this…’

    Obviously I would want to be anonymous…I think a lot of people are like me and are not sure when to contact police and how. In my case this person hasn’t broken any laws…it’s all language…so far

    • KayGeeGee

      Hi Catherine. I’m no expert but I was one of the people who sent in questions that were answered on air during the show. I’d start by contacting I know there are big hurdles given that the laws seem to only encourage intervention by experts once someone’s already committed a crime, like an act of violence, so you may find roadblocks. But start there and please let us know what you find out. I’m sure many others have the same question.

  • InfringedUpon

    I’m a legal gun owner. Why should my right to ergonomically adjustable semi-automatic firearms (so called assault weapons are nothing but) be restricted if I have never and will never use them innappropriately? No one wants to punish the mentally ill because most are not violent. Why is it OK to punish those like me when most of us are also not violent?

    • Samuel1956

      May I ask what you would need an AR-15 for? If the answer is “fun”, then would your fun be diminished if instead you used a rifle which you had to slightly exercise your muscles to reload for every shot?

      • InfringedUpon

        An AR-15 is ergonomically adjustable and very versatile. This is very valuable when you are teaching others to shoot safely. The lenght of the stock can be adjusted to fit the shoulder length large or small framed people. Depending on body type a bare handguard, forward grip, or angled grip can be used to fit the shape of the individual shooter. There are also plenty of options for sling location to allow support to improve accuracy for target shooting. Finally the rail systems allow for a huge range of scope options depending on the type of shooting performed from high magnification to simple red dots.

        All of these are the reasons the AR-15 is the most popular sporting rifle type in the market. At the range there are usually more ARs than other types of long guns combined.

        • It’s the american love affair. Guns and Cars. Beware anyone who gets between the lovers and their obsessions.

          • InfringedUpon

            Beware how? Your response implies there was a threat somewhere. All i did was attempt to educate you on why so called assault weapons are not particularly dangerous and in fact are defined by features which are ergonomic or stylistic in nature. I’m sorry if that was threatening to you in some way.

    • Beth Grant DeRoos

      InfringedUpon I am curious why you feel the need to even own any kind of an assault weapon.

      Also would like to know what you think would work as far as keeping firearms out of the hands of the wrong people.

      • InfringedUpon

        First, an assault weapon is not a particularly dangerous weapon. It is just as dangerous as any other semi-automatic rifle and just happens to look like a military gun. Some the reasons for wanting one are listed below in my response to Tenzin.

        Second, I personally don’t object to background checks on purchases as long as there are no mandatory waiting periods, excessive fees, or the background check process isn’t abused to infringe on the rights of law abiding citizens without due process of law. However in my experience background checks are abused in an attempt to curb the ability for law abiding citizens to buy and sell legally owned property. It’s next to impossible for a resident of the bay area to buy a gun from someone in southern California because the waiting period will require them to make two long expensive trips for the transaction. If that buyer already owns firearms then that waiting period is absolutely pointless anyway.

  • afraid

    The Stigma over mental health makes me fear that I would not be accepted for health insurance with a mental health history. I would rather struggle with mental health than give up my access to physical health care. The elephant in the room…

    • Liz Brooking

      This is why OBAMACARE is so vital and such a relief.

  • lani20


  • geraldfnord

    Here’s a thought: make owning a weapon making one capable of killing
    more than one fleeing person per minute conditioned on drilling with a
    well-regulated militia (as opposed to the sort favoured by the rebels in
    Shay’s Rebellion and the Whisky Rebellion, which latter two seem the models for some of our recent self-organised militias).

    Being able to submit to the discipline of drilling and being in the company of other people might both weed out those who cannot exercise self-restraint and help keep people from going off the deep-end unnoticed—and they certainly will have incentive to notice if one of their number is starting to lose it, as he (almost always it’s a ‘he’) will be next to them holding an automatic rifle for hours a month.

    Adding biometric trigger-guards to the scheme would also be a very good idea—yes, of course they could be defeated, but to make that objection definitive is to make the perfect the enemy of the good. Nothing will be perfect; in a nation of more than 0.3 billion people, there will always be outliers, and we will always be horrified by them when the m├Ždia alert us all to their horrors. But never being able to fully solve the 3-sigma problems does not free us from the obligation to attempt to do our best with the 1- and 2-sigma ones.

  • Dave W

    What about the role that violence as “entertainment” plays? I am 45 years old and I grew playing some of the first arcade video games and saw the introduction of the first home video game consoles.As the games have evolved, the amount , intensity and realism of the violence in video games has increased immensely. The same holds true for movies and TV shows with the advancement of special effects. Many young people I know now,grew up playing mega violent shooting games and watching violent movies and TV shows. I feel that this has had a desensitizing effect on our nation and the world. Portraying violent macho men and women killers as “heroes” in movies as well as our nation’s involvement in wars around the world is seen as “heroic and brave”. I feel that this is short sighted,ignorant,harmful and misleading.Our military,gang culture,cop shows as well as the classic cowboy Westerns , have taught our youth that killing someone to solve a problem is cool. Big guns that rip people apart are cool too. Until our relationship with and love of violence changes ,we will continue to have these kinds of problems.

  • lani20

    What about the Mother who bought all those guns.??? Not your average Mother.

    The NRA actually posts very scary written statements about “your freedom” and” the government will be taking a your guns”, on gun club walls.I’ve seen this . It’s libelous.
    There are people out there with ‘crazy’ notions because they believe that stuff. Like the Mother of the shooter.

  • t r

    The problem is that when these severe mental illnesses are in the prodromal stage, when treatment is most effective, if the child is over 18 years of age (which is when most severe mental illnesses begin to show symptoms) you are completely unable to get help. I have been told countless times: There’s nothing you can do. You have to wait til they reach bottom.” But once bottom is reached, recovery is much more difficult. The mental health system is broken.

  • Henry

    The day when 3-D printing of functional objects such as guns is coming. As much as I believe in strict gun control, I’m afraid it will become impossible to regulate guns printed from open-source designs. By then, the only “spot” left to shine the light is the mental state of the persons who use them.

  • older mom

    I think there is a huge unawareness about the total lack of emergency mental health support services. I have a brother with multiple forms of schizophrenia and despite ending up at short-term psychiatric clinics, he wasn’t diagnosed until he landed in jail. Even after multiple suicide attempts, the psychiatric clinics could only keep him a day or too and then they’d call us up to pick him up, with few suggestions on where to take him afterwards for appropriate care.

  • Christine

    I agree that it’s crucial we address access to mental healthcare, but this is far from a solution. We can’t expect that parents of children like the Sandy Hook killer will always be proactive about seeking help. These individuals are often loners, and surely some suffer from dysfunctional family lives. And what if someone does report a suspicious person but nothing comes of it? I imagine the potential repercussions from doing so would be a significant deterrent.

  • t r

    Please found out about Laura’s Law. If it were adopted, it would allow for earlier intervention in the lives of those suffering with mental illness. It is California state law, but needs to be adopted by the counties to go into effect. It would make it easier to treat people before their symptoms reach the point that they are imminent danger to self or others, the current standard.

    • I agree with this post. Thank you for reminding California of Laura’s Law.

  • Beth

    This discussion needs to include our school systems. i have been an advocate for children with hidden disabilities (k-12) who are mostly ignored & denied services by the schools. most special education departments do not seek out or treat these kids. they are often the children who are just labeled, anti social, behavior problems. drug users. i have never once seen an effective behavior modification plan implemented by a public school. what happens to these children (who often despite heroic efforts on the part of parents do not receive the care they need) when they turn 18? we as a society must from the moment kids enter school embrace them (care for them as individuals) and raise them as a community. the price is too high to continue to ignore those with hidden disabilities.

  • guest

    1) Medical care for chronic mental illnesses (and catastrophic illnesses) should be 100% government financed.

    2) The DSM phenomenon, primarily driven and controlled by psychiatrists, insurance companies and the psychopharmacological industry, increases the likelihood of misdiagnoses and unnecessary and harmful medical care.

    3) Law enforcement organizations are increasingly using tasers in lieu of communication. e.g. Kelly Thomas, Malaika Brooks, dog [ ]

  • disqus_zYhA5HEtxo

    we can try to ‘fix’ all of these symptoms, but the disease is our culture; america’s love affair with power and guns. see ‘bowling for columbine’ by michael moore.
    thank you for this discussion.
    helen s.

  • disqus_ktx92o3iW5

    The problem is not just a burden for parents. As the daughter of a head-injury survivor, I constantly battle with knowing what to do when my parent, who functions so highly on a day-to day basis becomes so abnormally enraged at the most unexpected triggers. I fear that getting help for my parent is almost impossible unless the rage were to affect someone outside of our family.

  • Laurel

    On the show this morning, there was discussion about providing guns for protection in classrooms. I think this adds unnecessary risks, and we should be thinking about “less than lethal” technologies that could be used to disarm an attacker.

  • Greg Sancier is spot on. NAMI is fantastic and… everything, all their programs are free. If you or someone in your family needs help, and have nowhere to turn, call your local chapter or go the the national website for your local affiliate’s phone number and/or website. They provide one path through the turmoil and fear.

    • Liz Brooking

      Agree! I’m thankful for NAMI and organizations like it.

  • Beth Grant DeRoos

    Mental health care funding has been reduced in the billions. Call your local health department and see if sliding scale care is even offered any more. Most insurance companies don’t even cover in office ‘talk’ counseling. Most cover ‘pills’. Not real care. Wasn’t it then Governor Reagan who closed most of the states mental hospitals?

  • FayNissenbaum

    The guest is making police sound very capable of handling mental health sufferers. My former co-worker, Rich Poccia, was shot to death by trigger-happy Napa police two years ago while he was standing on his sidewalk. His wife called a police officer and explained he was suicidal. And what was the mental health response? Police arrived with a swat team, gave Richie confusing orders and in seconds put a sniper shot in his head. Police found a pocket knife folded in his pocket and said the shooting was justified. Rich Poccia was a longtime nurse at SF General’s Emergency Room and likely had more mental health training than the police did ! So how can we trust the police when the man’s own wife asked for help and got a swat team for her efforts?

  • Suzanne

    Has anyone studied the mental health of people who own automatic and semi-automatic weapons? My theory is they must be mentally ill to want or think they need that type of fire power in their homes.

  • GiorgioOrwell2nd

    Can your guests speak to whether or not our mental services in this country are anywhere near up to the task of taking on the scale of our mental health issues in this country. The common understanding is that this infrastructure in the US has been so gutted since Reagan’s initial cuts, that it is not capable of handling the scale of the problem.

    The same people that advocate for pro-guns are the same people that are calling for the gutting of government services in the name of “small government”…wait for further gutting after the fiscal cliff cuts start to bite….

  • FayNissenbaum

    Thank you. A caller to the show is now saying police are atrocious handling mental health cases. That has been my experience and I work on the front lines of a City hospital.

  • Ella

    As a woman who was not diagnosed with BP until age 30, I have lived with this illness for over 3/4 of my life and suffer from the constant fear of others finding out/disclosing, the loss of self identity and side effects of meds. I chose not to bear children. For years I worked in the CA mental health system as an advocate with Transitional Youth. They are such a vulnerable population. In order to conquer society’s struggle over the violence( and high mortality) that is a result of the internalization and externalization of having mental illness, I believe extensive education is crucial. Over many years I have seen dozens of wonderful productive people who have varying levels of diagnoses and are indeed much higher functioning loving peaceful members of society than those without. Until we can say, “I have a BP, Schizophrenia,etc.” and not “I AM Bi Polar” akin to “I have diabetes.” No one says “I AM diabetes” we will all be stuck in the consequences of tragic lifelong challenges. Thank you for this program.

    • Good point! We need to stigmatize “mental illness.” There should be no shame in having these illnesses. And no shame in family members having sisters, daughters or brothers or sons with mental illness either.

  • 1PeterDuMont2STARALLIANCE8

    Wow…in my opinion the caller at 10:45 Pacific had a great point! He suggested (to restate and elaborate) that society look not only to the mental health of the so-called “identified patient,” but to others in the family, the community, and our society at large. The larger social context of “ill” will give us a broader perspective for finding more effective answers. In many cases, the “problem individual” may be a valuable window on a deeper social problem, and the solution will be found at the group and societal level, where “everyone matters.”

  • I share many of the same frustrations as some of the comments below and your callers. Our mental health system is a tragedy. I have a 47 year old sister with paranoid schizophrenia and Type 1 diabetes. Her health has been declining for years. This has been an on-going nightmare for our family and her (now adult) children who have suffered emotional abuse. I have reached out to NAMI and local mental health clinics in her area and had similar responses as the callers have remarked. Things basically have to go to all he** before anything happens. And the worst is that our law officers are not well trained about mental illness. She’s been “hogtied” and taken in and shot up with Haldol (which is dangerous for someone with Type 1 Diabetes) and then let out the next day. We have been told to keep a records, create a paper trail, prove that she is utterly unable to take care of herself (suicidal attempts) or is a danger to society and then maybe she could be held for a significant amount of time to get the help she needs. The long term damage to our family, the abuse to her children are life long traumas. This is a bleeding wound of our country and we need to change our legal system. She denies that she has a problem, stays up all night screaming at the people outside her home. She is in a living hell. She is human, not a monster. I remember her when she was a young artist, dancer, and southern California surfer. Now she lives in isolation up high in the desert, with serious medical conditions and teeth that are falling out. I pray for our country to embrace new legal and public policies that treat the mentally ill humanely. I like the idea of the caller who suggested holistic condo living arrangements with wrap-around services. I also agree to more mental health resources within schools.

  • Liz Brooking

    Thank you for discussing mental illness on your program FORUM.
    It is so misunderstood and events such as what happened in CT will surely contribute to the stigma associated with it. Your program was a relief amidst the memes I see on the Internet that are saying don’t discuss (and therefore glorify) the killer.

    We MUST talk about the killer and what I imagine is at the root of what played a big role in this tragedy: mental illness. And we must do so with balance. Not all the mentally ill are violent, as your guest said.

    I lost my brother to suicide at the age of 28. He suffered from schizoaffective disorder. His first big psychotic break was in college. A caller suggested we needed programs at schools to raise awareness and provide support systems. I AGREE. Young adults who are suffering from diagnosed mental illness (depression or bipolar) are often far away from the support systems to help them continue their treatment. Those who experience an acute episode of major depression or a psychotic break, often have nobody to turn to. It’s an imperative that we build a community to support our youth when and where they need the help.

    My brother was a pacifist. He was talented, creative, kind, and strong. And yet there were days when I was afraid of him – not understanding what was going on with him and having no way to fathom the demons and delusions that plagued his every day life. At the time (28 yrs ago), none of my family had the vocabulary to deal with it. We had never been exposed. And the systems (law, insurance, etc) didn’t know how to deal with it either. My brother was expelled from the system by his insurance company as UNINSURABLE FOR LIFE – in his twenties, just twenty days after his first psychotic break. Imagine. He was simply cast aside as unwanted, undesirable, unlike us. That was a tragedy and this is what perpetuates the stigma around mental illness and prevents many for seeking treatment.

    Most families could not have afforded to treat him. Most would not have had the contacts or means to figure out a way to get him help in a psychiatric hospital despite his adult status.

    Because of his death, I have made it my mission to educate others about mental illness. I have donated my brain to the Harvard Brain Bank, so that once I’m dead, it can be used to continue important research for treatments and a cure for mental illness.

    I have participated in clinical studies seeking to discover the underlying genetics behind the disease.

    And, I am active fundraiser for mental health research.

    In short, there is much we can do – as individuals. One of the simplest things is to provide a listening ear, to be aware, and to be compassionate to those who are suffering.

    It was my brother’s last wish that if we ever came into money, we would put it towards mental health research. In his honor, we have established an endowment fund for mental health research at McLean Hospital, a venerable psychiatric hospital in Belmont, MA. The Jonathan Edward Brooking Memorial Fund for Mental Health Research funds brilliant young researchers at McLean Hospital who are working to improve treatment options, isolate the causes, and find a cure for mental illness. This kind of private funding is an essential bridge for researchers to test an idea and obtain the needed results to go after larger foundation and government grants to fund the multimillion dollar research efforts.

    My brother was an amazing man afflicted by a terribly misunderstood and frightening illness. As my mother once said, “He was too good for this world.” Now he is free from his nightmare and it is our collective hope that because of him, others will not suffer as he did.

    Thank you again for your program.

    Liz Brooking

    PS For more information: and

    • Your strong clear words speak for many of us. That your heartbreaking story may not be repeated endlessly takes the kind of effort you’re making. May many many more of us join you.

      • Liz Brooking

        That makes all the difference, Neil. Thank you. Thank you. And best wishes to you and yours for a joyous holiday. This is not the easiest time of year for those among us who have experienced loss or those who are struggling; in the spirit of the season, let’s acknowledge them all.

        • Helen Carter

          Thank you for posting, Liz. Sorry for your loss. Best wishes on the continued success of all your endeavors … and remember to look after yourself too.

          • Liz Brooking

            Thank you, Helen.
            And thanks for the reminder. I do!
            Happy Holidays.

  • When they wrote the constitution the guns that they carried for self defense did not have the capacity to shoot so many rounds. There is NO REASON for semi automatic weapons. It is ridiculous.

  • Frank

    One fact you will never hear in the Mainstream Media, which includes
    NPR, is that the father of the Newtown shooter was about to testify in
    the US Senate about the LIBOR scandal, which involved multi-trillion
    dollar rigging of interest rates for lending between banks.

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