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The pathway to violence and public mass shooters in mental health treatment before attacks

Rebecca G. Cowan (School of Counseling, Walden University, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA)
Rebekah Cole (Department of Military and Emergency Medicine, Uniformed Services University, Bethesda, Maryland, USA)

Safer Communities

ISSN: 1757-8043

Article publication date: 15 December 2021

Issue publication date: 20 January 2022

391

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to provide mental health practitioners with a framework for conceptualizing individuals who may be at risk of targeted violence, mass shootings in particular.

Design/methodology/approach

Through the lens of the Path to Intended Violence model, a non-experimental descriptive design was chosen to explore the characteristics and behaviors of perpetrators who had engaged in mental health treatment within six months before their attacks.

Findings

The perpetrators in this study demonstrated behaviors included in each of the stages of the Path to Intended Violence model. Thus, it may be important for practitioners to be familiar with this model, especially the earlier stages, to potentially identify and intervene with individuals who may be at risk of committing mass violence.

Originality/value

This paper highlights how the Path to Intended Violence model can provide practitioners with a framework for identifying progressive warning signs in patients and how to take action to stop them from continuing their journey toward violence.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The opinions and assertions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Uniformed Services University or the Department of Defense.

Funding: This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

Declaration of competing interest: All authors declare to have no conflict of interest.

Citation

Cowan, R.G. and Cole, R. (2022), "The pathway to violence and public mass shooters in mental health treatment before attacks", Safer Communities, Vol. 21 No. 1, pp. 31-44. https://doi.org/10.1108/SC-05-2021-0020

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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