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  1. #1
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    Virginia Tech shootings

    And yet another school shooting. How tragic for all the students at Virginia Tech and their families and friends. I don't understand how/why someone could do such a thing.

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    Re: Virginia Tech

    Another thing that is difficult to understand:

    ...campus police and school officials allowed classes to continue after the first shooting, and did not close down the school for everyone's protection.

    http://www.latimes.com/news/nationwo...home-headlines
    (For this reason, the president of the university should resign or be made to resign.)

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    Virginia Tech

    My thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the victims of this tragedy.
    I could not bear the news and slept for a bit until the phone woke me. Now I hear on the news that 33 people are dead including the shooter. Dozens of students are injured including those who jumped out windows. For personal reasons this affects me terribly. I have been trying to gain information on statistics over the past year and it has been most difficult. I can find listings of statistics but not the actual information that backs up the statistics. I do think that violence among young people is increasing and that generally people are becoming more and more inured to violence. Writing this has helped me calm down a bit. Mari

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    Re: Virginia Tech

    I do think that violence among young people is increasing
    Before this incident, I had read that violence among young people has actually been down for the last decade.

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    Horrific School Violence Leaves Question, Concern in its Wake

    Horrific School Violence Leaves Question, Concern in its Wake
    Tuesday, April 17, 2007

    In the wake of the tragic events yesterday at Virginia Tech, we must all now come to terms with the nation's deadliest mass shooting. In reading about the most recent evidence, it appears that the two incidents were in fact the work of the same shooter, who has now been identified as Cho Seung-Hui, a 23-year-old student from South Korea. Very little information has been released about what transpired as police are still investigating.

    Perhaps the most difficult question to ask or answer at this point is why. What could bring someone to the point where they kill 32 other human beings? As Dr. Lily Hung wrote earlier here in response to previous school violence, there are no easy answers to those questions. Police have encountered trouble in finding information about this most recent shooter. They've described him as a "loner," something that has been said of earlier school shooters.

    By all accounts, the school, county and state of Virginia have acted as quickly as possible to establish counseling services and to begin to foster what will surely be a long recovery process. For the rest of us, we need to make sure that this is a topic that we can discuss openly. This event illustrates how any of our lives can be effected by gun violence, and now especially in the wake of this tragedy, it is important to be vigilant for others who might take a cue from this incident and copy what they have seen. Now that he has been identified, we can expect to see Cho's picture in every conceivable media outlet, and that kind of exposure can certainly seem like a positive result to others who have contemplate these kinds of horrendous acts. While it may seem trite, it can't be stressed enough just how unacceptable this type of outcome is, but only through increased awareness, something that should come easily in these difficult weeks and months of recovery, can we hope to avoid similar tragedies in the future.

    Our thoughts will be with the members of the Blacksburg community and all those whose lives have been touched by this tragedy.

    UPDATE: Newsweek has published a story about the struggle to come to terms with the hows and the whys. It's a worthwhile read.

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    Warning signs from VA Tech shooter

    Warning signs from VA Tech shooter
    By Treatment Advocacy Center
    April 18, 2007

    Lucinda Roy, Virginia Tech English Department, told Neal Cohen on Talk of the Nation that the Virginia Tech shooter was a disturbed young man ... and that she had tried to get him some help to no avail.

    "I just felt that he was a very depressed youth and seemed to be angry about some things and so I felt that there was some things I needed to do ... because that's what you're meant to do as a teacher ..."

    "I contacted the police, contacted counseling, student affairs, the college to try to sound the alarm, and they felt that their hands were tied legally for various reasons ... as you probably know until someone actually threatens to do something, it can be incredibly difficult to make something happen ..."
    We?ve heard this all too many times before - one Virginia mother asked ?what do I have to do, have him kill someone to get him treatment?? shortly before her son killed her. We?ve been sounding the alarm that Virginia?s law, which is one of the most restrictive in the nation, needs to be reformed. Perhaps someone will now listen.

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    Re: Virginia Tech

    BTW, I've seen comments in news blogs citing the article below, which argues that children of dry cleaners may be more likely to develop schizophrenia:

    Tetrachloroethylene exposure and risk of schizophrenia: offspring of dry cleaners in a population birth cohort, preliminary findings.

    Department of Epidemiology, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, New York, 10032, USA.

    Tetrachloroethylene is a solvent used in dry cleaning with reported neurotoxic effects. Using proportional hazard methods, we examined the relationship between parental occupation as a dry cleaner and risk for schizophrenia in a prospective population-based cohort of 88,829 offspring born in Jerusalem from 1964 through 1976, followed from birth to age 21-33 years. Of 144 offspring whose parents were dry cleaners, 4 developed schizophrenia. We observed an increased incidence of schizophrenia in offspring of parents who were dry cleaners (RR=3.4, 95% CI, 1.3-9.2, p=0.01). Tetrachloroethylene exposure warrants further investigation as a risk factor for schizophrenia.

    Schizophr Res. 2007 Feb;90(1-3):251-4. Epub 2006 Nov 17.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/q...&dopt=Abstract

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    Re: Virginia Tech



    What does that have to do with Virginia Tech shootings?

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    Re: Virginia Tech

    The killer's parents were dry cleaners. So, it seems possible that he was exposed to tetrachloroethylene, which could increase his chance for getting mental illness (not necessarily schizophrenia).

    However, I've now seen an argument against this applying to the killer and the killer's parents:

    From what I know about local Korean dry cleaning community is that all of them took up the dry cleaning business after having children and after establishing themselves in the U.S, so this study wouldn't apply to the shooter's family.

    http://www.dailytarheel.com/home/ind...8-757bc708259c
    So it probably doesn't matter, anyway, in this case.

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    Cho's Behavior Alerted Counselors, Who Were Unable to Act

    Cho's Behavior Alerted Counselors, Who Were Unable to Act
    Chicago Tribune
    April 18, 2007

    CHICAGO - As new details emerged Wednesday about the alarming behavior of the student behind the Virginia Tech massacre, college mental health experts said they will re-examine ways to help disturbed students and protect those around them.

    Classmates described gunman Cho Seung Hui, who killed 32 people before killing himself, as sullen and withdrawn. A professor, concerned by Cho's writings, had referred him to counseling. In 2005, a magistrate ordered him to a psychiatric hospital because of concerns he was suicidal.

    Combined, the warning signs point to something being terribly wrong. But college counselors - who every year see more students suffering from depression, anxiety and stress - say it's not that simple.

    College officials don't always share information with each other, because of confidentiality concerns or simply poor communication, and counseling centers may be so overwhelmed that students have to put their names on a waiting list before they're seen. Universities generally don't have psychiatrists on hand who specialize in detecting potential criminal behavior, nor do they have in-patient facilities or round-the-clock counselors.

    Looking at the tragedy in Virginia, David Hayes, a clinical psychologist and director of the psychology training program at Louisiana State University's student health center, gave a succinct assessment: "Every university in the country knows that could have been them."

    He said people at Virginia Tech seemed to notice, from Cho's odd and detached behavior, that there was reason to be concerned.

    "The detection side of this worked pretty well," he said. "A lot of students were noticing and realizing this was outside the normal pale of things."

    But he questions whether the counseling center at the university - or at any university for that matter - would have been able to properly diagnose and treat Cho, a 23-year-old senior.

    "Mental health centers at universities are trained to deal with the normal problems of living - depression, anxiety," Hayes said. "I just feel any university counseling center would probably get a referral like this and want to help and do what they could. But they'd be so outmatched."

    College mental health experts predict that after the horror at Virginia Tech, some colleges may refer their more severe cases to off-campus psychiatric treatment facilities. Other campuses may mandate counseling, rather than recommend it. And some may lift limits on the number of therapy sessions a student can receive.

    "There will be changes. We will be little better at listening to what teachers have to say. We will probably train resident advisers a little more forcefully about when to make referrals," said Peter Sheras, a clinical psychologist at the University of Virginia. "Hopefully, we will train whole student bodies that if somebody is suffering or having problems, they'll let people know about it who can help."

    Nationwide, nearly 18 percent of college students say they suffer from depression, while 12 percent report experiencing anxiety disorders. About 9 percent said last year that they had seriously considered attempting suicide, according to a 2006 study by the American College Health Association.

    That means that colleges and universities are "shifting from having these sleepy little therapy centers to doing more general mental health and crisis work," said Dr. Thomas Kramer, director of the Student Counseling and Resource Service at the University of Chicago. Last year, the U. of C. counseling center saw 2,100 of the campus' 14,000 students, up from 1,900 the year before.

    College counselors have varying policies when working with students in crisis, but laws of confidentiality and privacy generally prevent them from sharing information unless there is a direct threat of danger to the student or others.

    Just weeks ago, Virginia became the first state to pass a law that prevents public colleges and universities from dismissing or punishing students because of concerns about their mental health, including those who have attempted suicide.

    That's in contrast to the policy at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, which mandates that students have four counseling sessions if they are referred for suicidal behavior. If the students don't agree to the assessments, they can be expelled. About 150 students a year receive mandatory counseling.

    Paul Joffe, a counselor at the U. of I., said he may suggest that the university also require counseling if students are showing violent tendencies or other potentially dangerous behavior. Virginia Tech professors and classmates have said that Cho's writings and screenplays were laced with violence, and one professor had him removed from her class.

    "We are certainly going to have every practice under review," Joffe said.

    Already, he said, if a student threatens to harm another individual, reports are made to the police, the university's disciplinary office, and the counseling center.

    "We create a clear behavioral expectation that they will refrain from statements like this, writings like this, actions like this. If they are not able to, we act quickly to discipline, sanction, withdraw," Joffe said. "We put people on notice that threats of violence toward another person are unacceptable."

    Bob Gallagher, author of an annual survey of college counseling centers, has been watching the trends in college mental health for more than two decades. He said that not only are more college students being treated for mental health problems, but their problems - including depression, bipolar disorder and learning disabilities - are more severe than in the past.

    In the 2006 National Survey of Counseling Center Directors, 92 percent of counseling directors said the number of students with severe psychological problems has increased in recent years. Several experts attribute the increase in part to more students with a history of mental illness going to college, helped by new medications and improved psychotherapy. They also said students are under more pressure to achieve than their peers were in the past.

    "Treatments for behavioral disorders have gotten so much better that people who would never have gone to college are now getting treatment and are in school," said Kramer, of the University of Chicago.

    But once in school, students generally cannot be forced into counseling unless they have broken the law and are ordered to do so by a court, or if there is a policy like the one at U. of I.

    "Your hands are really tied unless you feel that there's some sort of imminent danger," said Richard Kadison, chief of mental health services at Harvard University.

    Kadison, who has researched trends in mental health, said a recent Harvard survey found roughly 45 percent of the student body had experienced debilitating depression, and 10 percent had considered suicide.

    "There can be a whole range of triggers," he said. "Basically the big issue is really educating the whole community to know what some of the warning signs are to indicate a student's in trouble."

    Still, there may be times when even the best mental health interventions can't prevent a tragedy, experts said.

    "In the same ways that you treat cancer, you can recognize it, see that it is there, and people will still die," said Sheras, the University of Virginia psychologist. "We want to affix blame because we feel so darn powerless. We want people to say we missed something obvious so it doesn't happen again."

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