On 16 April 2007, a deeply disturbed Virginia Tech student murdered thirty-two fellow students and faculty and then shot himself. Less than one year later, the Virginia legislature improved the emergency evaluation process, modified the criteria for involuntary commitment, tightened procedures for mandatory outpatient treatment, and increased state funding for community mental health services. The unanswered question, however, is whether the necessary political momentum can be sustained for the long-term investment in community services and the fundamental legal changes needed to transform a system focused on managing access to scarce hospital beds to a community-based system of accessible voluntary services.

Richard J. Bonnie et al., Mental Health System Transformation after the Virginia Tech Tragedy, 28 Health Affairs 793–804 (2009).