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Medical News & Perspectives
September 16, 1998

"What Are You Going to Do With a 41-Year-Old Man?"

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JAMA. 1998;280(11):954-956. doi:10.1001/jama.280.11.954-JMN0916-3-1

THE MAN CHARGED with shooting and killing 2 officers of the US Capitol Police in Washington, DC, in July, Russell E. Weston, Jr, was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in the mid-1980s, according to his family. Despite their urging, family members told news media, he refused to take prescribed medications or see a physician. "What are you going to do with a 41-year-old man?" Weston's mother lamented.

"Tragedies such as this are preventable," asserted Laurie Flynn, executive director of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI), Arlington, Va. The highly publicized shootings, she said in an interview, may spur action to correct long-neglected shortcomings in the nation's care of severely chronically mentally ill individuals.