Gun Violence Prevention: The Mental Health Implications of Mass Shootings

Gun violence has a detrimental impact on society in numerous ways, including reductions on the quality of life due to the fear of violence (APA, 2018).  The United States has the highest rate of gun-related injuries among “developed countries,” as well as the highest rate of gun ownership.  Furthermore, the U.S has more mass shootings than any other country.  The recent and tragic incidents of mass shootings in schools across the U.S have left community members, families and their children shocked and terrified.  The resulting mental health ramifications are many and may include trauma, PTSD, general anxiety and depression and others.  Psychologists and other mental health providers are working to develop effective methods to reduce gun violence, but political opposition has created barriers to support for research.

The frequency of mass shootings including school shootings is on the shocking rise as there have been nearly as many mass shootings as days in 2018 thus far.  During 2017, there were 346 mass shootings in the U. S. killing 437 people and injuring over 1,800 people.  In Chicago alone, there have been more than 1,000 people shot and over 200 homicides in 2018, with the majority of the victims residing in marginalized communities (Chicago Tribune, June, 2018).  Gun violence affects people of all ages but has a disproportionate impact on young adults, males and racial/ethnic minorities (APHA, 2018).  As responsible and engaged members of our community, mental health practitioners must respond.

This conference will explore how this complex and multifaceted problem of gun violence prevention can be addressed by various systems (e.g. mental health providers, community advocates, policy leaders, educators and students) to work together and promote a comprehensive approach that will keep individuals, families and communities safe.

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CIC 2017 Keynote presentation

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