The recent attack at the Washington Navy Yard, where Aaron Alexis killed twelve people and injured three others, was the latest example of mass shootings that continue to plague the country. Attacks in public areas have precipitated discussions on emergency response, facility security and even gun control. One element in this tragic phenomenon that deserves more attention, however, is the role of mental illness.

All too often, we treat mental health issues with derision and ignorance. Yet, for the homeland security community, as well as American society, it is way past time that as a country, we address mental health issues and their connection to violent incidents. Here is a piece I wrote on this issue for Defense Media Network.

Mass Shootings, Mental Health, Human Factors & Homeland Security

Another senseless tragedy, another set of funerals and another round of questions that all lead to one: “Why?” Sadly, you can just mention their locations and you know what people are talking about: The Navy Yard; Newtown; Aurora; Tucson; Virginia Tech; Columbine. The list can go on quite a ways. So can the findings of the investigative reports for the reasons behind the murderous shootings. Depending on your point of view, people will either argue for or against greater gun control. As controversial as that may be, it’s probably not the most difficult issue to address in tragic circumstances such as these. That issue would be mental health.

Read the full article.

Rich Cooper blogs primarily on emergency preparedness and response, management issues related to the Department of Homeland Security, and the private sector’s role in homeland security. Read More