Indicators of Violence

Is it possible to predict violent behavior before it occurs? The most accurate predictor of violent behavior is past violence, which sometimes is hard to know. However, there are other warning signs.

Internationally known forensic psychiatrist, Phillip J. Resnick, MD, was a consultant on many high-profile cases: Jeffrey Dahmer, Scott Petersen, Brian Mitchell (Elizabeth Smart kidnapper), James Holmes (Aurora, Colorado, shooting) and Casey Anthony. In March, Memorial Behavioral Health and Memorial Medical Center Psychiatric Services sponsored a conference featuring Dr. Resnick.

He provided a roadmap for professionals to better assess a person’s risk for violence, including the role of body language. Remember, safety is essential. It is not possible to diffuse every situation, but with proper training you can help de-escalate a situation until professional help arrives.

Warning Signs for Violent Behavior

  • Clenching fists
  • Tightening the jaw
  • Expanding the chest
  • Staring
  • Spacing feet apart
  • Raising the voice
  • Swearing
  • Verbally abusing others
  • Standing uncomfortably close

Not all situations evolve into extreme cases, but you can help people in your own community who might be developing a mental illness or experiencing a crisis. Join us for a Mental Health First Aid training to learn risk factors and warning signs for mental health and addiction concerns, strategies for crisis or non-crisis situations, and where to turn for professional help. Mental Health First Aid trainings are available in Sangamon, Christian, Morgan and Logan counties and are sponsored by Memorial Behavioral Health and Memorial Health System.

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