As President Obama lifted the hearts of the nation Wednesday night, I find my own heart lifted.
He's entirely right to move past assigning blame for the massacre in Arizona, and I feel called, as the president asks, to live up to the expectations of Christina Taylor Green, the little 9-year-old girl who was murdered while coming to meet Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
(I say that, it must be noted, as one who earlier pointed my finger squarely at Sarah Palin for fueling political ill-will leading up to the tragedy.)
The president noted, of course, how the shootings have touched off a national debate on a host of related issues, which he says includes "adequacy of our mental health system."
In fact, I've seen very little broader discussion of that point, compared to the debates over gun control and the potential political motivations behind the attack.
That's unfortunate. Because on a deeper level, it doesn't matter whether you believe alleged gunman Jared Lee Loughner was a deeply unstable young man driven by political vitriol, or rather he simply was a deranged individual with a gun.
Liberal and conservative — left, right, and center — understand Loughner to have been profoundly mentally ill.
One portrait this week goes so far as to paint the 22-year-old Loughner as a "'textbook' case paranoid schizophrenic."
In truth, it may be months, or years, before we know the full extent of Loughner's mental state.
But in one of the few statements that directly addresses the mental health implications of the Arizona tragedy, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) issued this one.
In it, Executive Director Michael Fitzpatrick begins asking some salient questions, such as:
•Was there a diagnosis?
•What is the full medical history?
•When were symptoms first noticed?
•Did family members receive education about mental illness and support?
•Did the person or family ever seek treatment—only to have it delayed or denied?
•Was the person seen by mental health professionals? By whom? How often?
•Was treatment coordinated among different professionals?
•Was the person prescribed medication? Was it being taken? If not, why not?
•Was substance abuse involved?
•What may have triggered the psychiatric crisis?