Don't judge parents of mentally ill children

Re: the March 31 editorial "Too little was tried to keep Loughner from turning killer."

Trying to get mental health help for my daughter was a nightmare.

I have dealt with psychiatrists, psychologists and therapists. I countless times would tell the "professionals" that she would ultimately end up homeless, in jail or worse yet, dead. They dismissed me, and we are already two out of three.

We continued to try to find help for her as an adult at a local mental health clinic only to be told she's "fully functioning" and they would not help.

It was only through dogged determination that I sought out another mental health clinic that she was finally declared SMI (severe mental illness). These clinics cannot force medications on anyone, even Jared Loughner, unless in an institution. That is the reality.

Parents do not know what to do and the services available in Tucson do NOT make it easy. It is, as the Star put it, "tempting to sit in judgment" when you are not in the family's shoes. When your "child" becomes an adult, it is almost impossible because you are now "out of the loop" and the clinics can't tell you anything because of HIPAA laws.

Do not judge unless you have been in this situation.

Sherri Stinnett

Special education para-professional, Vail

Laws limit tools to deal with mentally ill child

Re: the March 31 editorial "Too little was tried to keep Loughner from turning killer."

The Star's summation of what went wrong with Jared Lee Loughner was surprising - "we know not enough was tried."

No parent should be absolved of their parental responsibilities, but it's just wrong to focus blame on them based on subjective information contained in the investigative documents.

If you haven't walked a mile in Amy and Randy Loughner's shoes, don't rush to judge them. Current laws dealing with mental illness don't provide parents or authorities the tools to effectively "take action" to manage the problem.

While I do applaud the efforts for Mental Health First Aid programs, it seems to me families, schools and communities could be better served by cohesive moral, ethical and legal approaches to recognizing and responding to mental health problems starting at birth.

We do this already with physical health - why not mental health? With this kind of approach, can you imagine how life might be different today for Jared Lee Loughner, Gabrielle Giffords, Gabe Zimmerman and countless other individuals, families and communities impacted by the effects of mental illness?

Judy Anne Johnson

Sales representative, Tucson

A weapon can be used for good or evil

Being born and raised in a small central Wisconsin town and being elderly, I am able to remember when a crime with the use of a firearm was of a rarity.

Living in the later part of the Depression, the whole community relied to a huge extent on hunting and fishing for their families' survival. My home alone had over 18 weapons. Most all families had weapons for hunting, trap shooting etc., and yet I cannot remember one intentional shooting incident.

What happened to change the culture that if you disagree with someone's point of view or feel separated from society that you must kill to cast your revenge. The weapon is still a weapon that can be used for good or evil.

I have experienced society's change for the very worst. If we continue to ignore the laws of God as foolishness, then you too are the problem.

Peter Stotzheim

Retired, Tucson

Star's Easter edition had thoughtful content

Thank you for an Easter Sunday newspaper brimming with thoughtful and inspiring articles. Tim Bowden's courage, hiking a challenging trail while battling Parkinson's disease, is a lesson for all ("The tougher, the better for hiker with Parkinson's.").

Also, Tim Steller's column about Jared Loughner and parents of the mentally ill is insightful ("Parents of mentally ill often in denial."). Steller recognizes the responsibility borne by Amy and Randy Loughner, but concludes that their mistakes deserve forgiveness and that we can all learn from them.

In more welcome news on Easter Sunday, it has long been suspected that Louis Taylor did not start the Pioneer Hotel fire in 1970 ("Man held 42 yrs. in deadly fire to be freed"). It is heartening to know he has been released.

Finally, Maryada Vallet's column expressing evangelicals' support of the immigration reform movement is good news ("Local evangelicals join immigration-reform movement on bended knee"). And reading that artist Ted DeGrazia depicted Jesus' skin variously in black, red and yellow for the UA Newman Center, offers a splendid Easter message ("The Crucifixion as seen and told by Ted DeGrazia").

Debbie Collazo

Retired, Tucson