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NAMI’s Voice: The Arizona Tragedy

by Bob Carolla, Director of Media Relations

When U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords and 13 others were wounded and six persons killed on January 8, news media soon reported that the 23-year old  responsible for the shooting had shown symptoms of mental illness since high school.

NAMI spoke out—to help shape media coverage and educate the public. In an initial press statement. NAMI Executive Director Mike Fitzpatrick pushed back against the stigma that unfairly associates mental illness with violence and raised issues for the news media and government authorities to pursue. They focused on the degree to which mental illness may have been a factor and failures in the mental health care system.

Thanks in part to NAMI’s efforts, news coverage by Jan. 11 started to focus on the state of mental health care—and ongoing state budget cuts. Besides Fitzpatrick, NAMI Director of Policy and Legal Affairs Ron Honberg, NAMI Arizona leaders and others spoke out in over 70 major television, radio and newspaper interviews, where they were either quoted or shaped coverage. NAMI’s voice appeared on CBS News, CNN, C-SPAN and in USA Today, The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, to name only a few.

NAMI Executive Director Mike Fitzpatrick discussed the ramifications of the Arizona tragedy on C-Span.

Links to just a sampling of NAMI-shaped stories or interviews appear below. In addition, a broader compilation can be reviewed in sequence on NAMI's Twitter feed.  

Approximately 50 percent of Americans believe the tragedy is the result of the failure of the mental care system. NAMI intends to build on that awareness in seeking to stop devastating budget cuts in state mental health services.

Please join the effort to help the millions affected by mental illness. Send an e-mail now to state legislators. NAMI remains dedicated to helping individuals and families affected by mental illness.


Arizona Media Coverage Highlights

Los Angeles Times, Jan. 10
Mental Health Services Should Be Part of the Discussion

CBS News, Jan. 11
Laughner and Mental Illness in Arizona

NPR's Diane Rehm Show, Jan. 11
Serious Psychiatric Disorders in Young Adults

TIME Magazine, Jan. 11
If You Think Someone is Living with a Mental Illness: Six Warning Signs

C-SPAN, Jan. 13
Mental Health Laws in the United States

CBS News with Katie Couric, Jan. 13
Role of Mental Illness in Tucson Shooting Unclear

Newsweek, Jan. 14
Our Broken Mental Health System
The title of the story is based on NAMI’s quote from Mike Fitzpatrick, described as one of those “cautioning about stigmatizing the mentally ill and calling for better early intervention initiatives to help the troubled.”

CNN, Jan. 14
Warning Signs: What Parents Should Do
The story includes the appeal to “Call a local chapter of NAMI.”

CNN State of the Union with Cathy Crowley, Jan. 16

USA Today, Jan. 17
A Mental Illness Suddenly Reveals Itself in a Young Adult

CBS News, Jan. 17
Living with a Mental Illness

Los Angeles Times, Jan. 19
Mental Health in Arizona: A Case Study

The New York Times, Jan. 20
After Shooting, Scrutiny on Mental Health Cuts