How to spot signs of premeditation and what to do as a bystander when you suspect violent intentions?
I was napping this afternoon waiting for my kids to come home from school, just a quick cat nap, so like a good social media addict I had checked Facebook before I went to sleep and I reached for my phone when I woke up. I wasn’t gone long. I woke up to this, along with the horrific video and the sick knots in my stomach, the not again, the anger and helplessness, the why? When will this end? Why can’t we make it stop? Why can’t we talk about the real issues, gun control? Safety for those at risk of violent behavior. Why? Why again? And why didn’t anyone know or do something about it. Before it happened?
(CNN)[Breaking news, posted at 3:53 p.m. ET]
Investigators are examining social media postings made by a man, thought to be in his late 20s, who they believe is the suspect in Thursday’s shootings at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, a source with knowledge of the investigation told CNN. The night before the attack, the alleged shooter appears to have had a conversation with others online about his intentions, the source said.
The alleged shooter was conversing online about his intentions. This is not the first time we have heard this. Shared premeditation. Do we not, as a society have a responsibility to do something about these public missives? Is there not some level of bystander intervention that could have prevented this incident and/or those in the past, and most importantly, future events? We must step up so that instead of hearing “he was talking about something like this” as we watch families keen in agony over lost loved ones, we hear “I’m calling in a warning, this person is writing scary things online. These are threats.”
That’s what needs to happen. And I am not talking just about this particular shooting. Change this damn narrative. Call in a warning. Get to the person, call the police, call their doctor. It depends on your relationship with the person whether it’s law enforcement or it’s their mental health professional or their parents. If it’s your child, get in touch with them at college if they have been hard to reach, or the administration. You hide the prescrition drugs, or you make sure they are being taken, again depending on the situation.
We need to stop reacting and be proactive. If you see a Facebook post, or a tweet or an email that hints at such behavior or if you know your friend or child or spouse is thinking violent thoughts and is amassing weapons or is thinking of doing so or has been isolating or unresponsive to communication or otherwise acting in an unusual manner, don’t wait, and then say, “Oh, that might have been coming.” Do. Not. Wait.
They may be suicidal, they may be homicidal, they may simply be hurting and need you. Please, stop ignoring these cries for help or people will continue to die. It’s that damn simple. Again, lock up your guns, if you must have them. Lock up your prescription medications, or, if needed them for mental stability, make sure your son or daughter or spouse or uncle or roomate takes them. Pay attention to your people. Pay attention to your people or many, many others will continue to die.
Just as we have suicide hotlines for those who are thinking of harming themselves, we need to think about those who are thinking of harming others. Call 911, reach out for professional help.
If you see something or if you hear something or if you have a reasonable suspicion of something, say something. Wouldn’t you rather be wrong than wake up from an hour nap to find yet another campus shooting, ten more dead, more wounded and the count growing? Once it has happened, it’s too late.
See something. Hear something. Say Something. It’s everyone’s problem and we can all be part of the solution.
Our hearts go out to the families and loved ones in Oregon involved in this latest tragedy, and to the first responders. We are thinking of you and we are standing with you.
Photo Credit: Getty Images