Local experts weigh in on state of nation's mental health care

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The crime -- unthinkable. The hurt -- unbearable. And we still don't know why it happened.

Newtown investigators say they haven't found any journal entries, letters or any motive.

They don't know why 20-year-old Adam Lanza killed his own mother and then drove to her school before killing 20 first graders and six other people before turning the gun on himself. The only thing they can say is that he was disturbed.

"We need to go back and dissect some of these events and figure out where did it go wrong, what might have been done differently," said Dr. Tom Bornemann, director of the Carter Center's Mental Health Program.

Bornemann says he hopes what happened in Connecticut is a wake-up call for every family and every government agency, including ones in Georgia.

"So that in the future, we can kind of anticipate when someone's getting in trouble, having difficulty living in the community in a safe way, what are our options to intervene and intervene in a more timely manner," said Frank Berry, commissioner for the Georgia Department of Health and Behavioral Disabilities.

"We need to do a better job of earlier intervention and earlier detection, and then we can provide resources, so that hopefully these things won't happen in the future," Berry said.

A big clue something's wrong sometimes isn't what a mentally ill person says -- it's what they don't say.

"Isolation, are there stressful environments that a young person is experiencing, have they been socially isolated?" Berry said.

That could have been a warning sign with Lanza.

"Hopefully it will engender a real discussion about what needs to be done going forward," Bornemann said.

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