A National Violence Prevention Hotline: Why and How?

[Episode 31 of the Intentional Clinician Podcast]

The National Violence Prevention Hotline was inspired by real-life events in the United States. Amidst a scourge of school shootings, one school shooter in Georgia was stopped, not by a gun, but by the compassion of an innocent bystander. Some potentially lethal situations could be avoided if individuals prone to violence are given an opportunity to experience empathy and genuine concern before they decide to act.

The current mental health and criminal justice systems do not appropriately address violent tendencies. Violent fantasies are often not discussed in the mental health field, and in the criminal justice system, there are no prevention strategies–only dehumanizing consequences. A violence prevention hotline would give individuals access to professional mental health care, appropriate referrals, and safety.

Additionally, a hotline would save the United States billions of dollars. Billions are spent on prison and law enforcement, yet the United States continues to have a homicide rate seven times higher than other high-income countries. A prevention hotline would mean significantly less money going toward violence aftermath costs. Other hotlines have been proven to be both cost-effective and outcome-effective, so it would be well worth the effort.

Stigmas surrounding violence can be a hindrance to starting a violence prevention hotline. Those with violent fantasies may not reveal them due to shame or fear, but mental health providers who work with these individuals also tend to avoid talking about the topic. Opening up a violence prevention hotline would open up a conversation about violence much like the National Suicide Hotline has opened up conversations about suicide.

Empathy is at the heart of violence prevention. De-escalation strategies all begin with listening, and the violence prevention hotline would give individuals the chance to experience that.

If you are interested in taking action to make this hotline a reality for the people of the United States, consider helping in one of the following ways:

  • Grant writing
  • Social media collaboration
  • Establishing a nonprofit
  • Secure funding through public policy

You can learn more here www.violencepreventionhotline.org

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