Gun Violence; Public mass shootings, once a rare event, now occur with shocking frequency in the United States. According to the Washington Post, four or more people are killed in this horrific manner every 47 days. The most recent mass shootings, in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, occurred less than a day apart and resulted in the loss of 31 lives.
With each fresh assault, politicians and the public have become more firmly entrenched in their beliefs about the root causes of mass shootings and about possible solutions, from more restrictive gun control laws to better mental health care. Researchers across Columbia University’s campuses have put these theories to the test in an effort to identify effective strategies for preventing mass shootings and other forms of gun violence.
Funding to gun violence
Mental illness has long suspect as a primary cause of gun violence and mass shootings in particular. But only 3% to 5% of violent events are attributable to mental illness, writes Paul Appelbaum, MD, director of the Division of Law, Ethics, and Psychiatry at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, in an opinion article in JAMA Psychiatry. “Much of the increased risk [of violence] in people with mental disorders is attributable to other variables rather than to the disorders themselves.
With little funding to study gun violence, “they tend to fall back on conclusions unsupported by evidence,” says Sonali Rajan, EdD, assistant professor of health education at Columbia University Teachers College in an interview publish on the school’s website. In a study published in PLOS ONE; Rajan and colleagues; from NYU Langone find no association between video games and other types of screen time and gun ownership among teens.
The researchers analyzed data from the CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System; which surveyed tens of thousands of teens about 55 different; so behaviors over a period of 10 years to identify factors associate with carrying a firearm. “Among the 5% to 10% of American teens who report regularly carrying a firearm; there is a much stronger association with substance use; engagement in physical fighting; also exposure to sexual violence than with any poor mental health indicator,” explains Rajan.
Gun related deaths
In other countries, the implementation of laws restricting the purchase of and access to guns; so in other countries has also associate with reductions in gun related deaths; so according to a study from researchers at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. “While the research did not conclusively prove that restrictions, or relaxation of laws, reduce gun deaths; the results indicate that gun violence tended to decline after countries; pass new restrictions on gun purchasing and ownership,” says co-author Sandro Galea, Ph.D., in an interview for the school’s website.
Recent suicides among survivors of the mass shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School and Parkland High School show that the effects of such violent events are long-lasting and entrenched. “The public may be affect even if they were not in immediate proximity; because the media reifies the effects of a mass violent incident,” says Jeffrey Lieberman, MD, chair of the Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, in a recent video interview for Medscape.
For survivors of violent events, “reminders such as anniversaries; which can prolong complicated grief or even reactive grief and trauma,” writes Kathleen Pike, Ph.D., director of the Global Mental Health WHO Collaborating Centre at Columbia University; so in an article publish on the center’s website. “Community supports matter not only in the immediate aftermath of traumatic events; but also for individuals who continue to suffer over time.”