As Rachael notes , Kelsey Hawkes, a high school girlfriend of Jared Loughner’s, has been talking to the British tabloid the Daily Mail, which sensationally sums up her account in this headline: "Our high school love split tipped killer over edge." I don’t for a second think that Hawkes’s rejection in 2005 precipitated Loughner’s decision to open fire in a Safeway parking lot in 2011, but here’s what I do find interesting about her account: She says that after she dumped Loughner, he began drinking and doing drugs and, sometime later, cut himself off from their mutual friends.
Why has so much most of the discussion about Loughner this week, both at Slate and elsewhere, taken on faith the idea that he must be schizophrenic first and foremost? We hear from a variety of sources that he was doing a lot of drugs, and drug-induced psychosis (of the sort caused by heavy meth or cocaine use) can be nearly impossible to differentiate from schizophrenia. And yet no one is talking about the role Loughner’s drug use may have played in his mental health crisis.
Was Loughner self-medicating in response to an incipient mental illness, or was it the other way around? Of course, it may not be an either/or – drug use can trigger schizophrenia in susceptible people, and when someone is given a "dual diagnosis" of mental illness and a drug addiction, it's often very hard to figure out which came first. But why, when every other piece of Loughner-related news has been picked to shreds (along with a great many of things that aren’t news, as Jack Shafer has pointed out ), is no one talking about this one?
TODAY IN SLATE
The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola
The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.
I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.
Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.
Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore
And schools are getting worried.
160 Countries Host Marches to Demand Action on Climate Change
- Protesters Take to the Streets to Sound Alarm on Climate Change in New York, Across the World
- Knife-Carrying White House Jumper is Vet who Feared “Atmosphere Was Collapsing”
- North Korea: American Sentenced to Hard Labor Wanted to Become “Second Snowden”
- Almost One in Four Americans Support Idea of Splitting From the Union