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Arizona Shooting Suspect Showed Signs of Schizophrenia

6:51 PM, Jan 10, 2011   |    comments
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mugshot of Jared Loughner (Pima County Sheriff's Office)

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WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA) - The young man charged with killing six people and wounding 14 others in Arizona, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), had recently terrified fellow students and a teacher at Pima Community College. One student said she was so scared 22-year-old Jared Loughner was going to show up with a gun, she sat next to the door.

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"This is someone who is delusional, disturbed, disorganized. He has all the classic signs of schizophrenia," said Psychologist Dr. Alan Lipman, who is the founding director of the Center for the Study of Violence.   He says Loughner's postings on the internet reveal a break with reality. There are nonsensical arguments, rantings about mind control, and a bizarre incoherence, which Lipman says are all hallmarks of schizophrenia. 

Lipman says plenty of people witnessed Loughner's breakdown over the past few years.

"At Pima Community College, he was acting out with such ferocity, that his teacher was afraid that if he turned his back, he would be shot by an automatic machine gun. And a student was so concerned about Loughner's behavior that the student wrote in to the administration," said Lipman.

The Arizona shooting is eerily reminiscent of the Virginia Tech massacre. In both cases, a student showed signs of an impending mental breakdown. A report about the Tech shootings found administrators didn't know they had the authority to intervene.

"Teachers and administrators do not know they often have the right to talk with that student, to talk with the student's family, to accompany that student to the counseling center. These are interventions that can make all the difference," said Lipman.

Lipman says schizophrenia can be successfully treated with anti-psychotic medicine. But to get to that point takes concerned people taking action to get a sick person help, which apparently didn't happen in Phoenix.

Written by Peggy Fox
9NewsNow & wusa9.com

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