Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Navy Yard Shooting and Workplace Violence

The death toll is anywhere between 12 to 14, depending on the source. That is the number of people who died yesterday from a shooting at the DC navy yard. As the FBI continues to profile the shooter, Aaron Alexis, everyone is left wondering what would cause someone to turn on his colleagues. 

Until now, little is known about the shooter. What is clear, however, is that he was a Navy reserve working as a contractor. The motives behind the shooting are still unknown.  He also managed to sneak a concealed weapon onto the grounds and shoot at other contractors. We also know he was suffering from depression according to some accounts, and that he was either angry or felt betrayed. The media is now reporting this anger may have stemmed from a confrontation with commanders. 

It is a scary thought, to think that someone can turn on his colleagues so unexpectedly. While the mass shootings over the past few years were more concentrated in public areas, the   average worker is subconsciously afraid of workplace violence.  Maybe it's fear stemming from the 9/11 attacks, or maybe it's from the lingering effects of past coverages of disgruntled workers but workplace violence is a reality. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that between 2006 and 2010, there was on average over 500 workplace fatalities per year. In 2010 alone, 78 percent of
workplace violence was a direct result of shootings. 

It's safe to say that we all lose it at work, especially with other colleagues. Whether it is a level of stress or other unknown, indirect factors that makes a person snap is unclear. But the workplace has become increasingly stressful over the past few years. I see it everyday on the faces of professionals trying to keep up with the demands of their jobs. It is evident in the rise of work-related health issues among professionals. Pinpointing the source of that stress before it pushes an otherwise sane human being over the edge should be our top priority. 

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