This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.
Give Isaac Zamora credit for something: His killing spree in 2008 is helping persuade lawmakers that it shouldn’t be next-to-impossible to get an obviously dangerous and unbalanced man into psychiatric treatment.
Before Zamora exploded and shot six people to death in Skagit County, his family pleaded repeatedly for professional intervention. Red flags had been waving for years. He was delusional, suicidal, aggressive and threatening.
Yet he couldn’t be detained long enough for successful treatment because Washington’s Involuntary Treatment Act sets such a high bar for involuntary commitment or enforced therapy.
The current trigger for commitment requires that a mentally ill person pose an “imminent” danger to self or others, or else be “gravely disabled.” As interpreted by the courts, the “imminent” standard almost requires that someone be chasing people with a knife – not two weeks ago, but right now – before he or she can be forced into therapy.
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