You never think it could happen to you. Workplace violence on the rise

Every day we get in our cars and head to work never thinking it could happen to us. Statistics show that hundreds of people have lost their lives from violence in the workplace.

Posted: Apr 29, 2019 9:50 AM

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI)- Every day we get in our cars and head to work never thinking it could happen to us. Statistics show that hundreds of people have lost their lives from violence in the workplace.

This entire month of April, people are bringing awareness to workplace violence. It's an issue that few want to address, but experts say not addressing it can be a contributing cause to these incidents.

Just two months ago, on February 15, Gary Martin opened fire at a manufacturing business in Aurora, Illinois.

Martin shot and killed five workers and wounded five police officers. Officials say Martin was fired from the company earlier that day.

Tricia May, MSW, LSW, MAT, is the director of Therapeutic Services at the Harsha Center in Terre Haute. Harsha works with the overall mental health in both children and adults.

"We have to be that cautious and aware that things could happen at any time," May said. May reacted to the Illinois shooting calling it heartbreaking. "It's honestly scary," she added.

Workplace shootings are on the rise. The Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics points out that in 2017 a little more than 800 workers across the country died on the job due to violence. Of those numbers, 351 people died from a shooting.

May says trauma like this affects people's mental health.

"It makes peoples kind of concerned," she said. "It increases anxiety and it increases depression. It also triggers Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders."

She says communication with your fellow co-workers is incredibly important.

"Those feelings of not being heard can lead to aggression," May added. "They can lead to angry feelings."

May says offering the benefits of training and counseling to employees could save lives.

"Letting them know that there is no retaliation to report those things," she said. "It's important to really pay attention to the mental health of our significant others, those around us and the people that we work with."

Harsha Behavioral Center in Terre Haute has some tips: 

Ways to prevent workplace violence

- Create an effective line of communication- Key factors to building anger and frustration are the feelings of not being heard and it can breed potential for workplace violence.
- Training session and provide assistance to those in need.
- Establish a Zero-Tolerance code of conduct and encourage reporting of incidents of potential violence.
- Encourage employees to accept individual differences.
- Show that the quality of the relationships between each member of the team is important to everyone and the operations of the company.

Things to look for

- A person who has a controlling nature and becomes overly defensive if someone else takes control.
- A person has an obsession with power such as has an excessive gun collection or obsessed with things which can be utilized to control others.
- A person who displays violent opinions such as blaming victims or excessively talks about violence against others.
- Use of malicious references such as "they had it coming" or "Karma is a great thing and will get everyone."
- There is a history of violence in personal as well as their professional lives.
- Someone that has a sudden change in mood or are under extreme levels of stress at home.
- Someone that makes verbal threats against others.
- Someone who communicates with others through forms of intimidation.
- Appears to be paranoid or anti-social.
- Someone who has a history of substance abuse and are prone to unpredictable behavior.

What to do if suspect violence

- Call 911
- Report immediately to the supervisor or even others around if a threat is imminent.
- Respond calmly and do not argue with the individual.

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