“Unfortunately, we live in a society that says as long as you are not a danger to yourself or someone else you can be as psychotic as you want to be,” Taylor said.

Exceptions include states such as New York, which allow court-ordered treatment called assisted outpatient treatment for patients who cannot recognize their own need for care.

New York’s law is named in memory of Kendra Webdale, a 32-year-old Buffalo woman pushed to her death in front of a subway train in 1999 by a man with severe mental illness who had a history of avoiding treatment.

Mental health advocates fear the shooting might produce a backlash against people with mental illness.

“Studies have shown that it is incredibly rare for someone with a mental illness to commit gross acts of violence, especially on such a scale as the Virginia Tech shootings,” the U.S. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association said in a statement.

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