Our safety in our daily lives has become a bigger issue than was ever thought possible. Individuals are acting out in ways that are frightening and worrisome. It has become more important than ever that each and every one of us watch for signs and symptoms, and then report them when they spark a concern.

The scary fact about violence is that we may never be able to see it coming. Neighbors, friends, co-workers, customers and young/old alike, may suddenly and violently act out in ways that can have a devastating effect on the lives of those around them, with what seems like little or no notice or remorse.

I want to be clear here. We should not all become accusatory of our neighbor when we decide that a behavior is suspicious or uncommon. However, repeated and ongoing aggressive actions toward others may be a sign of concern and a reason to contact the authorities. Never take actions into your own hands, leave it to a professional.

With the various economic and life-changing pressures taking their toll on us and those around us, it is important that we consider the consequences of overlooking behaviors which we could have/should have seen. Caring about others includes keeping our hearts, minds and perspective open to the possibility that workplace violence is a current concern and lack of attention to the consequences can have devastating effects on those we love, work with and care about.

Below are a few signs to watch for. Please keep in mind that not all signs must be present for concerns to be raised. Additionally, a single sign does not mean that someone is a risk for becoming violent. However, those who exhibit sudden, unexplained or severe changes in mood or behavior could be a sign of a problem and it would be wise to have a trained professional investigate that situation/person.

Signs to watch for…

• Fascination with weapons - the individual talks about almost nothing else.

• Substance abuse - coupled with other concerns, this can add fuel to the fire.

• Severe stress - as a result of unexpected or unpleasant life changes, such as divorce, financial, job crisis/change, etc.

• Violent history - the person has a history of previous violent behaviors.

• Poor psychological function - unstable mental or emotional state of mind.

• Decreased or inconsistent productivity - work effort is good some days and poor others.

• Social isolation - loner, the person does not associate comfortably with others.

• Poor personal hygiene - ongoing and noticeable changes in hygiene or cleanliness.

• Drastic changes in personality - going from cheerful to always angry, short fuse, etc.

• Bullying - seems to be angry and gets into conflicts easily, acts aggressively toward others.

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