Watching For “Warning Behaviors” May Prevent Some Mass Killings.

The Arizona Republic (8/12, Ortega) noted that although it “can seem all but impossible to understand why anyone would commit a mass murder” as James Holmes is “accused of doing” in Aurora, Colorado in July, “forensic psychologists and other behavioral scientists are increasingly identifying reasons that can predispose someone to commit mass violence, and ‘warning behaviors,’ such as a fast-growing fascination with weapons and violence, that should signal the need for intervention.” J. Reid Meloy, a “forensic psychologist and professor of clinical psychiatry at the University of California-San Diego” said it’s often “possible to identify people who fall into high-risk groups and to take some action to intervene — from requiring counseling to restricting someone’s access to weapons to seeking involuntary commitment, or many other steps in between.”

Physicians Want Gun Violence Treated As A “Social Disease.” The AP (8/11, Marchione) reported that some public health experts want gun violence to be treated as a “social disease” that requires a public health approach. They give examples from past public health problems addressed with “highway safety measures, product changes and driving laws that slashed deaths from car crashes decades ago.” The CDC estimates that some 73,000 visits to emergency rooms in 2010 stemmed from firearms, and recent mass shootings have led one expert, Dr. Stephen Hargarten of the Medical College of Wisconsin’s Injury Research Center, to ask whether “we have a public health issue to discuss.” The AP cites other experts and lists some examples of how a public health approach would work.

Related Links:

— “Psychologists look for ‘warning behaviors’ to stop killings,”Bob Ortega, USA Today, August 12, 2012.

Posted in In The News.