TAC - After Santa Barbara: We can do better - and we must


The deadly consequences of failing to heed red flags for violence from young men known by their families to be psychiatrically unstable and dangerous are on tragic display in the May 23 rampage attacks that left six young men and women dead and 13 others wounded near the University of California Santa Barbara.

The parents of Elliot Rodger, 22, and a social worker alerted law enforcement that Rodger appeared to be a danger to himself and/or to others after he had posted disturbing videos on YouTube. But California law doesn’t allow private individuals to petition the court for an emergency evaluation. Even Rodger’s private mental health providers were excluded. When responding officers found Rodger shy but “polite” and “kind,” they were left without grounds for referring him to evaluation. That left his family without a means of intervening.



I totally agree with you Barbie…and i think most of us on here were frustrated in our efforts to help our loved ones get an emergency evaluation. I hope and pray that the system will be improved before another innocent person dies needlessly. Such preventable tragedy!!


Its not sure if he suffered any mental issues. There are many angry and violent people on the streets that don’t have mental illness. The media and people behind that are labeling those that commit crime as mentally unstable to throw the burden from their shoulder… When they label a person as mentally ill. There wouldn’t be anyone left to blame except the mentally ill. There are many things in this world that can cause a person to act violent, and they don’t have to have any mental issues… If we look at Europe or any other country’s we dont see things like this happening. And mental illness attack a person no matter in which country he lives.


New York Times rebuttal


It’s so unbelievable and unacceptable that the patient’s mental health providers aren’t allowed by state law to request a 5150 psychiatric hold.

According to the law, it must be a county-level clinician. Or any peace officer. The drawbacks with these two “qualified” individuals is that they don’t have the patient’s history or medical records showing potential danger. They only see the patient once. And patients will often lie about their symptoms and suicidal/homicidal ideations.

It’s a complete failure of a vital system. One that should be reworked to allow private clinicians to determine who needs psychiatric hold for the safety of the patient and community.

Such an avoidable tragedy.




This is one topic that is really getting to me right now. There is a lot of public outcry about how the family ignored warning signs, or set him up in an apt and washed their hands of him. Which simply isn’t true. He was in a kind of assisted-living program where ‘therapists’ visited him regularly, spent time with him and helped him manage living independently. I don’t know why everyone must jump to the conclusion that the parents were neglectful. Before my son was diagnosed, I’m sure I could have jumped to those conclusions myself about a tragedy like this.

The other thing that gives me perspective, is my own experience of trying to figure out what was ‘wrong’ with my kid. His decline was slow, and we tried to figure what was happening to him for 5 years before he started exhibiting signs of serious mental illness. It started out as "Well, all teenagers are moody."
to "Maybe he is depressed?"
and then "Maybe he is Autistic? (he has Down syndrome)
We took him to the ER, thinking he was having a heart attack at one point, because he would not say what was going on.
Before he finally revealed that he was hearing voices, we were having him treated for Vertigo, because he was clutching his head and writhing in pain. He told us he was dizzy, rather than reveal the mental torture he was enduring.

My point of all this is, nobody starts out thinking “Oh wow, I think that’s psychosis.” including Doctors. I have no idea if Elliot Rodgers was psychotic, but it is entirely possible that he was and his parents had no idea until he posted those first videos. News reports say the parents thought he had Aspbergers, due to his extreme social anxiety.

Uninformed public also keeps demanding why the family didn’t “just have him committed?” Not realizing that is no simple task, especially since he had never shown signs of violence, or tried to harm himself before. I was instructed to take my own son to the hospital for a 5150, by his Psychiatrist. After at least 6 hours driving there + sitting in the waiting area; he was turned away because the staff said "this isn’t the right place for him."
No one ever offered a suggestion of where was the right place for him; so we brought him home and have toughed it out on our own.

My point being, when people say “Just have him committed”, i say “Good luck with that.”


Notice how the media always uses the word “Autistic”. You never see “Psycopath”.


BTW, what does TAC mean?


You are right on that also. But it should by now-make people stand up and notice. There is never enough help or resources for people who suffer with MI. It just angers me how much we have to fight the system, the disease…I am done with it. My son and I will have to find our own way to get things done. Finished with paperwork and bureaucratic stuff.


When a parent tells law enforcement, the courts, or anyone, that “something is wrong with my son, he is a danger to himself/others”, they better start listening and taking appropriate action! Parents just do not do that on a whim.

In our county in GA, to commit someone, at least two people familiar with the person must drive to the county courthouse and file the necessary papers. Heaven forbid that your loved one need help at night or on a weekend or holiday because guess what – the courthouse is closed. Or that you are a single parent and have no one else to go with you.

The first time we had our son committed the county clerk (go-between the judge and us) kept coming back to us from the judge saying, “we need more, we need more”. My God, how much more do you need I wanted to scream! That was one of the hardest things we have ever done was drive to that courthouse and commit our son.

Thank God the second time he was committed about a month ago, the newly formed Crisis Team came out and did it for us.

When this tragedy happened in CA, I was watching the news bracing myself to hear the word, and sure enough, within 60 seconds they were throwing it around, schizophrenic. I just cringed. Next day come to find out his diagnosis is aspbergers.

The only good thing that could possibly come out of these strings of tragedies is that maybe, just maybe, lawmakers will wake up and make the much needed changes to our broken mental health system.


**Amen to that!
Alot of the time, I took my son to the ER, where we would sit for hours. Then, he would be admitted to the psych unit for maybe 2 weeks, 1 week…depending on how many beds were available. If they thought he needed longer, the hospital case worker would go to court and have C. committed to a state hospital. Most of the time, he was released before he was stable. If my son would not go voluntarily, Then I would have to call the police. UUgghh!


I can’t even imagine what you and your son must have gone through sitting in the ER for hours during a crisis :anguished:

And when we called the police during a crisis, they put our son in jail!


TAC = Treatment Advocacy Center. :smile:


That`s pretty bad. There should be EMT people everywhere that are trained just for these situations.