Today, yet another community is left to grapple with the heart-wrenching aftermath of senseless violence. On Wednesday night, a horrifying mass shooting unfolded in Lewiston, Maine. This tragedy is a stark reminder of the ongoing challenges we face in addressing violence in our communities and is a clear affront to the human condition. We must come together as a society to work towards solutions that prioritize the safety and well-being of all individuals and ensure that acts of violence are prevented in the future.
While many focus on mental health conditions as a cause of violence, studies show that mental health conditions contribute to only 4% of all violence, and the contribution to gun violence is even lower. In fact, individuals with a mental health condition are more frequently victims of violence than the perpetrators of it. By continuing to focus on mental health as the primary cause of violent acts, we are reinforcing stigmas and unwarranted fear of people with a mental health condition. Instead, we must focus on researching causes and predictors of violence, which may include mental health status, as well as on community education and safety.
As a member of our community, I believe it is our responsibility to make public spaces safer for everyone. I encourage you to tap into local and national resources to aid in the healing of your own trauma. I also call upon you to engage with your community, learn more about your neighbors, and take steps to contribute to a safer environment, including:
- Get involved in community planning and implementation of comprehensive community safety plans that include prevention and intervention
- Save/share resources to expand access to high quality, culturally-competent, coordinated, social, emotional, and mental health supports and address the impact of trauma
We are all a part of the concentric circle of suffering, some of us closer to the center than others, but it reaches all of us. We cannot wait to take action. Please find additional resources below, get acquainted with them, and share them with your friends and family.
Luis B. Pérez, LCSW President and CEO
Find a warmline – https://bit.ly/3tneIUz
Tips for coping through a traumatic event – https://bit.ly/3ik0nm0
Take a mental health screen – https://bit.ly/3pDgYqD
Disaster Distress Hotline – This helpline, sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), provides immediate counseling for people affected by any disaster or tragedy. Call 1-800-985-5990 to connect with a trained professional from the closest crisis counseling center within the network.
988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline – The Lifeline provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, across the United States. Call or text 988 to connect with a trained crisis counselor. Support is also available via live chat at 988lifeline.org.