Suicidal Rampage - Virginia Tech
April 26, 2007
Angry entitlement claiming innocent lives. The final tragic act
of a desperately troubled person who failed to get the help he so
Are school and community violence and suicide rare?
Should we be impressed that it doesn’t happen more often? Each year,
1,100 college students in America kill themselves. That is
three suicides a day! Most are tragedies that don't come to the
attention of the media. Cho Sueng-Hui made sure his death would be a
public affair. This was not merely an act of violence. It was a suicidal
rampage that left 33 people dead and others wounded.
People need to know what to do and where to turn...
Mentor Research has been developing and testing an information-based
technology that holds the potential for a national solution.
has been in research and development since 1996 and is just now starting
to be recognized for the wide variety of valuable applications.
Instead of focusing on
screening students for weaknesses in school or before college, we should
examine just how little mental health care we are able to provide in and
around school. It is not fair to suffer our children and then punish
them for the very conditions our society creates. Asking for metal
detectors and key cards will not keep us safe from our failing health
care system. Creating laws that prevent people from buying guns if they
are deemed "mentally defective" by a court, will not stop people from
getting guns, knives, poisons, and explosives. Focusing on
security measures such as school lock downs, avoids more important
issues. We should be demanding improved mental health care and access.
We should be asking how a severely depressed young man could reach a
point that he would decide the best thing to do is walk into a Roanoke,
Va., gun store and buy a Glock 9-mm handgun. We should ask why so many
people in our country give up, want to die and don't go on a
suicidal rampage. Ultimately, prevention begins at an early age.
The first and most powerful
point of contact and prevention in in our educational system. Our focus
me be on positive influences that can insulate and protect children from
mental mental and emotional disorders. Jenifer Fox offer a very
"...Developing strengths in schools is about
developing the kinds of positive emotions that sustain people through
conflict–development of strengths in children leads to better self
image, better relationships, better working situations, and better lives
for everyone. The place to begin this development is in our young
people. Positive emotions and positive psychology are not “fluff” or
“feel goods”. They are the developmental lens that will help to
lessen–not prevent–but lessen the odds of more school shootings.
Developing strengths in children is serious business. It is not about
happiness–which can be classified as a mood. Developing strengths is
about broadening a young person’s cognition. Research shows that
negative emotions and focusing on the negative result in anxiety,
depression and failure. It narrows a person’s ability to be attentive to
a variety of things and causes people to narrowly and obsessively focus
on a few things, missing the forest for the tress. Focusing on strengths
broadens ones view, opens ones mind, and presents people with options."
Jenifer Fox [ for read more go to
that Cause Violence
We have more medications used to treat mental illness than 3rd world
countries, but despite all these prescriptions we have more
dysfunctional and dangerously mentally ill people than a 3rd world
country. We have higher rates of depression than people who live in
Africa. The rates of completed suicides go up when a child
goes off to college. Going to College is a known risk factor.
Suicidal and Violent Behavior is
common: People are in denial. For example: suicidal thinking and
attempts are far more common than people want to believe. One out of 8
children between the age of 11 and 17 think about it. One out of 16
attempts the act. Violent thoughts are alarmingly common from an early
onset age in our society. Americans are the most heavily armed people in
Suicidal and violent
behavior is strongly related. Bullying and harassment are common
behaviors amongst high
school students. Our educational systems can be pretty harsh and
unsympathetic. The pressure and expense to go to college is high. The
promise of a job and career across the board for a college degree is not
good. For many kids and young adults, the educational system is a maze
and a gauntlet for which there is no guarantee of employment.
Inadequate care is often worse than no
care. The best predictor of a suicide is inadequate treatment,
unqualified help and false hope. Treatment must also be caring. Regular
caring contact with severely depressed and suicidal people
is significantly more effective that inadequate treatment.
always enough information to predict violent and suicidal behavior
We frequently have the information to predict violent
and suicidal behavior. We have gathered information from thousands of
people who knew, were related, or associated with someone who became
violent and/or suicidal. People just don't know what this means or what
they can do or say when concerned about someone’s behavior.
People actually know more than they think! Sometimes
the discomfort to discuss or report this is just too fearful.
Even, when in retrospect, we knew there was a problem all along.
But even when we know there is a problem, we often don’t know how or
where to present our concerns. We are reluctant to say or do something
because we are not sure about what will happen next.
for violent or suicidal behavior
Obvious violent or suicidal talk, threats or behavior
are serious factors…
Here are some less obvious risk
Major life changes
Stress related to school, work, family, legal
problems, or drug and alcohol use…
A family history of mental disorder, family
violence or suicide, drug and alcohol abuse…
Isolation: No friends… Poor relationships within
Significant changes in usual behavior or drop in
Drugs, Alcohol or Tobacco use…
Taking psychiatric medications w/o therapy…
Taking three or more psychiatric medications…
Depression, Schizophrenia or Bipolar disorder…
Involuntary psychiatric hospitalization…
If 3 out of the above 10 are true then there is a good
chance that this person struggles with suicidal thinking, feelings or
behavior. If this is the case then we recommend parents contact a
qualified mental health professional. Parents can also complete StepOne
for Parents (www.StepOneForParents.Org)
for a child who is 11 to 17. This can help parents identify the risk of
behavioral, mental health and substance abuse problems as well as the
risk of violent and suicidal behavior.
inadequate money on the wrong solutions?
Many good programs in this country are currently
trying to get more funding. They want to hire more counselors and crisis
intervention professionals. They want to print more handouts on suicide
and violence. They want to train employees, parents and students to
identify people who are suspicious, depressed or strange. They want to
put more mental health professionals in schools and universities. They
want to screen everyone for mental health problems in order to go to
school or have a job…
This is all
great, but will be very expensive and time consuming. It will cost over
one billion dollars to implement this level of care everywhere…
Sentinel - An
Online Approach to School and Community Safety
Mentor Research Institute has
been working on several program templates that can significantly support
our educational systems while helping provide community safety measures.
We have created and tested
out our first solution, called StepOne For Parents. StepOne for Parents
is a home and parent based screening tool. Parents can use this to
screen their child for emotional, behavioral and mental health problems
as well as the risk of violent and/or suicidal behavior.
In addition to our
measurement and outcome programs, we are currently developing a new
online approach that we call Sentinel.
The Sentinel -
A person who stands guard, watching, listening and gathering
information. His primary job is to warn and to protect.
Sentinel is designed to be
useful and available 24-7, anywhere in the
United States. The process is simple…
A parent, student, community member, faculty or staff can easily access
Sentinel by going on the web and anonymously answer a few questions
about someone they are concerned about. These answers trigger more
questions. The computer processes this information in the same way a
professional would. Sentinel then writes a report the way a human being
would, providing risk factors, information, guidance, suggestions and
Sentinel - A
resource for family, school and community safety.
Sentinel is important because people need to take
action when they have concerns. They also need to know who to call, what
to say, and what will happen if they call. Knowing what will happen can
help remove the resistance to taking action. Sentinel is designed to
help people become more involved, educated and empowered to make a
Our research and experience shows that people need to
be asked questions. A well designed set of the right questions with
appropriately provided information can help validate concerns and
articulate what is often a "gut" feeling that something is wrong. By
using Sentinel, people will learn what they know, don't know, and what
they can do. Many will discover that they knew more than they realized
and at the very least be given realistic geographically specific
referrals and guidance to take action when needed.
Sentinel is relatively inexpensive and is designed to
be available anywhere in the
United States. The entire system once
it is properly linked, can be implemented in a matter of hours. This
includes any school, college or University.
Mentor Research Institute is currently developing a
list of interested
community partners for advanced beta testing and pilot projects.
Contact Kevin Rea: 541 390-9848
For more information and photos go to:
Mentor Research Institute
818 NW 17th Ave. Suite 2
Portland, OR 97209-2327
501 c 3 Non-Profit
Tax Id# 91-1777183
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