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Although it is important to recognize that most people suffering from a mental illness are not dangerous, for those persons at risk for violence due to mental illness, suicidal thoughts, or feelings of desperation, mental health treatment can often prevent gun violence.
Policies and programs that identify and provide treatment for all persons suffering from a mental illness should be a national priority.
Urgent attention must be paid to the current level of access to mental health services in the United States; such access is woefully insufficient.
Additionally, it should be noted that behavioral threat assessment is becoming a standard of care for preventing violence in schools, colleges, and the workplace and against government and other public officials.
The mental health community must take the lead in advocating for community-based collaborative problem-solving models to address the prevention of gun violence.
Such models should blend prevention strategies in an effort to overcome the tendency within many community service systems to operate in silos.
Guns are not a necessary or sufficient cause of violence and can be used legally for a variety of sanctioned activities.
Such strategies must also attend to redirecting developmental antecedents and larger sociocultural processes that contribute to gun violence and gun-related deaths.The use of a gun greatly increases the odds that violence will lead to a fatality: This problem calls for urgent action.Firearm prohibitions for high-risk groups — domestic violence offenders, persons convicted of violent misdemeanor crimes, and individuals with mental illness who have been adjudicated as being a threat to themselves or to others — have been shown to reduce violence.There has been some success with community-based programs involving police training in crisis intervention and with community members trained in mental health first aid.These programs need further piloting and study so they can be expanded to additional communities as appropriate.