Mental Health Colorado issued the following statement:

Colorado lost a student in another tragic shooting this week. Eight others were injured and countless others were impacted. We often don’t know what leads to this kind of violence, and perhaps not knowing is the most difficult and important piece of this puzzle.

What kind of hurt drives someone to want to do this kind of harm? The answer, and our feelings about the people involved in these situations, is complicated. Often mental illness is thought to be the culprit, though in truth more people with mental illness are the victims of violence than the perpetrators of it.

What we can do

Adults can support children impacted by these events. It’s important to provide reassurance, maintain routines, answer questions honestly, encourage kids to express their emotions, and be a little less demanding about expectations. Be ok with saying “I don’t know.”

Going forward

We need to pay attention to students who might be dealing with personal failures, bullying, or maltreatment by others. We need to pay attention to students who feel powerless. And we need to listen. In 66% of school attacks, the culprit told other people about their grievances. In 81% of them, at least one person had information that the perpetrator was planning an attack.

We need to interrupt an individual’s pathway toward violence. Improved access to mental health services in schools and communities and continued relationship-building are critical factors in preventing and responding to these violent acts and the trauma that follows. We must also have a serious conversation that leads to action to reduce inappropriate access to firearms and their potential use against children and schools as vulnerable targets.

Resources

Anyone who feels unsafe or hears about a threat should visit www.Safe2Tell.org or call 877-542-7233. To speak with a trained crisis counselor now, call the Colorado Crisis Services at 1-844-493-8255 or text “TALK” to 38255.

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We’re working every day to advance the prevention and treatment of mental health and substance use disorders. Will we succeed? That’s up to you. Become an advocate. Share your story. Make a contribution. At Mental Health Colorado, our strength hinges on you.

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