If you’ve had a sense that active shooter events and other forms of extreme violence are on the rise, you’d be right. They are. And places of business—where both employees and customers are impacted—seem to increasingly be the target of these violent actions.
This post summarizes recent reports that speak to the unsettling reality of our current situation; a substantial increase in grievance-based violence that seems unlike any other in recent history. As always, my hope is this information will provide additional support to those who are Champions of the critical need for workplace violence prevention and response training in their organizations.
An article from theday.com establishes that supermarket shootings are on the rise.
Some are now saying that we’re currently in a “Perfect Storm” of active shooter risk. This is due to 4 primary developments...
1. Active Shooter Incidents are at a record high and trending higher.
• The number of attacks has doubled from 2016-2020, and in 2021, there is already a 20% increase over the record high.
• According to the FBI, “Since 2016, active shooter incident data reveal an upward trend: The number of active shooter incidents identified in 2020 represents a 33% increase from 2019 and a 100% increase from 2016.”
2. “Mental Health Issues” is showing to be a leading stressor related to active shooter incidents.
• The FBI identified mental health issues as the leading stressor associated with active shooter incidents.
• Those who move along the pathway to violence are often struggling with their mental health
• It’s estimated that 1 in 5 Americans (and 1 in 6 Europeans) suffer from some type of mental illness according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
• SAMHSA forecasts that mental health and “substance use disorders” will soon surpass all other types of disability worldwide.
3. Mental Health is declining in the ongoing pandemic.
• About half (47%) of adults continue to report negative mental health impacts related to worry or stress.
• The American Psychological Association’s annual Stress in America poll shows that the COVID-19 pandemic has already resulted in significant mental health distress. 48% surveyed indicated their level of stress had increased since the onset of the pandemic.
• Collectively, baseline mental health has declined as a result of the pandemic.
4. Pandemics cast a long mental health shadow.
• Research on post-pandemic mental health points to a significant increase in the need for mental health services even well after the actual disease is controlled.
• For example, the National Health Service and Centre for Mental Health in the UK anticipates levels of demand will reach two-to-three times that of current capacity within a three-to-five-year post-pandemic window.
• Research shows that mental health continues to degrade years after the physical threat has passed, so it’s unlikely that we’ll see a significant improvement in the short term.
There are no shortages of grievances in today’s society that could overwhelm many individuals’ capacity to cope in healthy, non-violent ways. Homeland Security has recently included “grievance-based” violence in its most recent summary of homeland security risks.
WORKPLACE VIOLENCE PREVENTION AND INTERVENTION EBOOK
Organizational leaders must stay aware of the convergence of these factors (especially for the remainder of 2021), AND take action to emplace policy, training, and response measures to maximize the potential safety and security of their workplaces. The time may very well have arrived for us to move from a “storm watch” mindset to one of a “storm warning” status with regard to acts of extreme violence.
As we do, let’s remember….
• NOT to confuse the unfamiliar with the impossible (It CAN happen “here...”)
• that we want to help people be mindful, not fearful (This is possible with the right kind of training)
• that we can ALL make a difference through awareness, empathy, and action. (If you see or sense something… say something.)
Don’t wait a second more...
Heart and Courage,
About the Author
James Sporleder has more than 25 years’ experience in the security industry. With a unique background in specialized captivity survival, James has trained thousands of US military personnel from some of the most elite units in the US Department of Defense. He’s worked in the corporate arena for more than 17 years, focusing on the development and implementation of specialized training programs and helping more than 50 percent of the Fortune 100 prepare for and respond to emerging challenges related to workplace violence, intimate partner violence, and extreme violence such as active shooter.