As the anguished second guessing over the Aurora massacre continues, much has been made of the suspect’s ability to amass an arsenal legally and over the Internet.

But there is a second wave of second guessing.

James Holmes was being treated by a psychiatrist who specializes in schizophrenia. It is too early to tell to what degree mental illness affected his actions, but the thread of mental illness weaves through so many “lone wolf” attacks.

Jared Loughner — the man who shot and killed six people and wounded 14 others, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords — has been diagnosed with schizophrenia. In the horrific murders of three young sisters in River Falls, Wis., Aaron Schaffhausen’s defense attorney has said his client has suffered from depression for a very long time. And just yesterday, a Dakota County Judge declared Iraq War veteran Blake Uddin not guilty of a carjacking because of mental illness.

It is impossible to say whether better access to affordable mental health care could have helped prevent these crimes. But it is also reasonable to say that better diagnosis, care and even awareness might have made a difference. And that is something to second guess.


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