Child psychologist talks about discussing tragedy

WICHITA, Kansas (KSN) — When tragedy strikes a community, many ask if we could have done anything to prevent it.

We were joined by psychologist Molly Allen Friday. We asked her, when you have a situation like happened in Hesston Thursday, people think ‘what are the signs I could have missed?’ ‘Could I have done something?’ What are the warning signs?

There can be. The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. Someone who has been violent in the past — violent in the past. Not everyone who has gotten in a fight in the past is going to go murder people, obviously.

Things that the individual may display may be attributed to other causes as well. They may have been more irritable right before, they may have seemed calm, focused right before. That doesn’t necessarily mean that person will commit a horrible crime like this. Something else may be going on. But if an individual has talked about committing an act of violence, it is not a good idea to blow that off. Usually take it seriously and say ‘what is going on with you?’ When you do not get a response, you may want to alert others.

What do you think is the best course of action for someone if they notice these alarming signs? You mentioned telling someone else.

If you feel safe enough to approach that person say, ‘hey I am concerned about you because you’ve been talking about going and hurting somebody.’ What is going on with you? If you get a cold chill down your spine when they turn to you and say ‘nevermind’. Don’t be afraid to talk to someone else, maybe law enforcement or a supervisor. Nobody has ever died from embarrassment. So if it’s just someone having a bad day, at least you tried to make other people safe.

So even their reaction to the question would tell you a lot too. Are there things that people can ask or say? In particular, to get them the help they may need. I think people often wonder, ‘I don’t know what to say.’

Just ask them. ‘Are you seeing anybody, are talking to anybody? I have concerns about you. You seem unhappy, you seem to be on edge, I want you to be ok. Always bring around to, ‘are you ok?’ What do you need to feel better about yourself? If they do not respond or blow you off, just back off and talk to a supervisor or maybe somebody in law enforcement if you need to.

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