Keeping Each Other Safe
When, how and to whom should you express concern about another's mental health?
ANCHORAGE - The debate over gun control is being raised following the shootings in Connecticut, but there is another question that many people are asking. How much personal responsibility do we have to keep each other safe? We asked several Anchorage residents how far they would go to get involved if they suspected a person’s behavior might lead to violence.
“If it’s in your family or a close personal friend, then I think that you do have a responsibility because you know... and after that, it’s a really gray area,” said one man.
“Personally, I think it’s a live and let live situation,” said a woman. “I would be more concerned with protecting myself and protecting my family.”
“We should have a crisis line or somewhere we can call to keep our community safe,” said another man, “because we are all part of this community.”
Anchorage police Officer Wendi Shackelford said all too often people don’t speak up.
“Afterwards you find out about all the information that was out there,” said Shackelford.
But telling can save lives. Students have stopped incidents by reporting even rumors of violence to parents and staff. In the workplace, a supervisor needs to know if people have concerns about a coworker.
“It’s really important for people to communicate with each other their concerns,” said Shackelford, “obviously with respect for the person's privacy and health, but safety comes first.”
Shackelford said people who are in dangerous situations at home also have to let others know, and not just for their own safety, but for everyone around them.
“If you are experiencing domestic violence in your home or in your personal life, stalking behavior or somebody’s harassing you, it's really important to let your supervisor know because those are the kind of things that can follow employees into the workplace.”
She said all of us bear responsibility to keep our eyes open and do what we can to keep each other safe. She also said this is a very good time to be thinking about these subjects because they are so fresh and real to us. She is available to help people who have questions or concerns about troubling behavior or workplace safety. You can call her at 742-3219.