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APA President Calls For Comprehensive Public Health Approach To Gun Violence

Crisis should be handled in the same manner motor vehicle deaths were successfully addressed, she says

CHICAGO, Aug. 8, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Gun violence in the United States is a public health crisis and should be addressed much as the government studies motor vehicle deaths, according to the president of the American Psychological Association.

"We collect more than 100 variables related to vehicular deaths, including weather conditions, speed, seat belt use, age, sex, seating position, and drug use of every single occupant," APA President Rosie Phillips Davis, PhD, said in a video recorded at APA 2019, the association's annual convention. "Those data have allowed improvements in car safety and serve as the basis of car safety standards nationwide."

Davis called for dedicated funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health to study the causes of gun violence in order to develop prevention evidence-based solutions.

She also repeated her assertion that mental illness does not lead to gun violence.

"People with mental illness are no more likely to commit violent acts than people without mental illness -- and in fact are more likely to be the victims of violence," she said. "Factors like stress, alienation, and feeling aggrieved, contribute, for sure. But the research shows that the biggest and most reliable predictor of violence is a history of violence."

Finally, she called for addressing the trauma experienced by victims of gun violence, as well as those who are traumatized vicariously, saying that "help is available."

"I urge anyone who is struggling in the aftermath of these shootings to reach outside of themselves, to their families, friends, and professional experts like psychologists to ask for help. There are ways to tap into your human resilience. There is a way through.

"Let's work together to stop the spread of hatred and bigotry and to get guns out of the hands of people prone to violence."

The American Psychological Association, in Washington, D.C., is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States. APA's membership includes nearly 118,400 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 54 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance the creation, communication and application of psychological knowledge to benefit society and improve people's lives.



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SOURCE American Psychological Association