Recognizing Danger in 
the Workplace and At Schools

Recognizing Danger in 
the Workplace and At Schools

Prevention of violence in the workplace or at schools is a group effort, according to one retired physician who also happened to suffer from a mental illness.

It seems like there’s at least one publicized act of violence at a workplace or school every week or so. Shootings at Fort Hood, the Washington Navy Yard and a FedEx facility near Atlanta – all considered workplace incidents – and a stabbing at a Pennsylvania high school and a shooting at a Nevada middle school are just of few of the incidents that have occurred in the past year or so.

In fact, about 2 million employees are affected by workplace violence every year, according to OSHA.

“This is not simply a case of the 24-hour news cycle maintaining a captive audience with fear mongering,” says retired physician Mohinder Goomar.

“In addition to the reported cases of workplace violence, who knows how many go unreported? A prevalent common denominator is untreated mental illness,” says Goomar, author of “It’s Just My Opinion,” which discusses his experience with dissociative identity disorder (DID), formerly known as multiple personality disorder. 

Goomar, who has personally suffered the destabilizing affects of dissociative identity disorder (DID), reviews indicators of mental illness, which may lead to violence.

Marginalized or bullied students/coworkers. Students interviewed at the Murrysville, Pa., high school, where 16-year-old Alex Hribal is accused of stabbing 21 people, have said Hribal is a shy person without violent tendencies. The FBI, however, has found evidence that he was bullied online.

Human beings are social creatures who almost always require companionship for mental well-being, especially for the development of a juvenile. Be sensitive to those who are socially challenged; pressure from bullying can have catastrophic consequences.

A consistent and emphatic victimization position. After pulling out a pistol and yelling what can be translated in English as “God is great!” Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan killed 13 unarmed people in Fort Hood. Later in court, when Hasan was representing himself, he justified his actions by saying he was defending a group of Taliban leaders in Afghanistan, including a man named Mullah Omar. Those who perpetrate terrible violence often do so citing justice from a victimized position.

Readily apparent indicators of paranoia and a history of violent reactions. Aaron Alexis, the former Navy man who was discharged from the service for a violent altercation, was nonetheless allowed to work in the Washington Navy Yard as a contractor. He eventually shot and killed 12 people, and critically injured three. The FBI later said that he was under “the delusional belief that he was being controlled or influenced by extremely low frequency electromagnetic waves,” or ELF. These are clear red flags of mental illness that were ignored.

An aggressively litigious nature. The Guinness Book of World Records named Jonathan Lee Richards the most litigious man, having had court filings against Martha Stewart and New England Patriots football coach Bill Belichick, among many others. Having heard of his new title, he filed a suit against the record-holding institution. Richards also is a former federal prisoner. Outrageous legal action is another form of confrontation from those who constantly perceive grievances.

“Because diagnosis and treatment of mental illness hasn’t progressed much in recent decades, we need to encourage lay people to be vigilant toward those expressing tendencies that indicate the potential for violence due to mental illness,” he says.

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