!2 people were shot dead in a movie theater early Friday morning.
The shock continues to reverberate across the country following last week's deadly shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado last week, where 12 people died.
The question that comes up is how can family members and friends spot these individuals who end up committing mass murder. One characteristic is "making direct threats, imitation and admiration of dark things, such as shootings and killings and guns, and vast amounts of gun-related stuff," says Melissa Swartz, a mental health therapist and professional counselor.
She also notes that students who commit school shootings also display this type of behavior. "School shooters have actually expressed their thoughts on killing in their schoolwork," she says. "Doing projects on the details of school shootings, even making some of their reports on school shootings, and even doing research on that type of stuff."
But there always seems to be one trait that all of these individuals have, says Swartz. "They are often reported as loners," she says. "And that's something that also speaks to that level of isolation and disconnection from community," she says.
James Holmes, the man charged with the shootings at the Colorado movie theater, was also described by his neighbors as reclusive who kept to himself. Police found his apartment booby-trapped with explosives.
Swartz says if anyone hears of family members of friends making threats against themselves or others to contact the police as soon as possible. If it's children, parents need to intervene immediately. "This is the time to get involved. Get nosy. Get into your kids business and get them help. Get them the support they need before something horrible happens," she says.
Many survivors of tragedies such as these will continue to have these memories for the rest of their lives. But Swartz says these people can heal emotionally, if they seek help. "However, what happen is we tend to over generalize when something like this happens," she says. So survivors need to concentrate on "getting support and getting help so that everyday experiences of life aren't going to trigger that."
The community must also reach out to these survivors and the families and friends of the victims who were injured or killed in these incidents, and offer them "an outpouring of love" for many years. "Getting closer to folks and supporting their families as best they can, whether it's bringing a hot meal or watching their kids or whatever it may be," Swarz says.