Last Friday’s tragic shooting at a Connecticut elementary school has left all of us numb. While I don’t intend for this blog to be a political commentary, it just didn’t seem right to write about anything else this week.
Besides, protecting our children and others from senseless acts of violence in schools, movie theaters, malls, or even hospitals — does have something to do with building design.
How do we design safer buildings? Ones where a person carrying a gun with an intent to harm others can’t get in?
How else can we stop these random mass shootings? Two things make sense to me — banning assault weapons and providing access to more support for mental illness.
Consider these facts:
- One out of four American families has a relative who has a mental illness.
- Mental illness typically strikes young people in their most productive years, 16-25.
- Families from all walks of life are affected by mental illness regardless of age, race, income, religion or education.
- Mental illness devastates families and ill persons. Family life is disrupted.
And these facts:
- Some 30,000 people die by guns each year in the U.S.
- An American child is 12 times more likely to die by a gun than are the children who live in all 25 industrialized nations combined.
- The annual economic cost of gun violence in America is estimated to be at least $100 billion. Medical costs, decimated families, the court system, our jails and prisons, and security measures in public buildings all contribute to this sum.
- Since John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, more people have died by gunfire in the U.S. than all the American servicemen and women who were killed in all our wars of the 20th century.
How can we as a healthcare and design community help address these problems?
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