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  • Writer's pictureTeresa Suarez

If you could prevent a mass shooting, would you?

Gun violence has become a phenomenon within American culture. As of August, this year, there have been 447 mass shootings—four or more people killed and/or injured. Some are reported as “Breaking News.” Others are never reported, but we know about them personally. It hurts. And it makes us depressed. And it makes us angry.

Bullet casings forming American flag
Bullet casings forming American flag

A national poll released by KFF, a nonprofit that focuses on health care research found about one in five people report having a family member who was fatally shot. The same share says they have been threatened with a gun. One in six said they have witnessed a shooting.

Graphs of statistics on gun violence
"The country is not facing one gun violence problem," Thomas Abt, the founding director of the Center for the Study and Practice of Violence Reduction at the University of Maryland, said. It faces four — everyday community violence, domestic and intimate partner violence, mass shootings and suicide.

Despite what movies and television shows tell us, more guns do not seem to solve gun violence. Isolating ourselves or pleading individual helplessness is not an answer either.

In Oklahoma, Nebraska, Omaha 360 — an initiative started in 2009 by the Empowerment Network that involves nonprofits, neighborhood associations, churches and local law enforcement has cut gun violence in half.

“Violent crime is a shared responsibility between police and community,” says Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer. (Washington Post Live, April 27, 2023)

One lesson they learned in Omaha is that enforcement is needed. However, prevention and intervention are parts of the success in curbing gun violence. Prevention and intervention are equal partners with enforcement in the solution to thwart gun violence.

“This is not a problem we can punish our way out of,” writes Jillian Peterson, an associate professor of criminology at Hamline University co-author of The Violence Project: How to Stop a Mass Shooting Epidemic

In the same book, the authors found common traumatic experiences among perpetrators of mass shootings, all of which require a data-backed, mental health-based approach to detect and help the next mass shooter before he pulls the trigger.

  • Early childhood trauma.

  • Violence in the home.

  • Sexual assault.

  • Parental suicides.

  • Extreme bullying

Harper Hill Global believes that its Triumph Over Trauma program is a proven method to prevent traumatized people from becoming perpetrators of mass shootings and other acts of violence.

Trauma comes in many forms and often has severe, long-lasting effects on individuals, families, and communities. We cannot ignore those effects. If we disregard them, further trauma is frequently the result.

Victims of trauma who do not receive mental health support will find ways to deal with the violence that was perpetrated against them. Some turn their coping skills inward in both good and maladaptive ways. Some turn outward in both good and maladaptive ways. One of those maladaptive ways is to become a perpetrator. And they can do it on a mass scale.

In partnership with the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD), Triumph Over Trauma brings a 7-week psychoeducational program to aid people on their journey to recovery. It is designed to be used in one place people reach out to for help—religious and spiritual communities.

TOT’s program is based upon NASMHPD’s T.A.M.A.R. (Trauma, Addiction, Mental health, And Recovery). This curriculum has been in use for two decades in US prisons, psychiatric hospitals, juvenile justice facilities, substance-use recovery programs, and community services.

T.A.M.A.R. was created to help inmates in state prisons to understand their trauma and triggers, leading them to react in maladaptive ways—self medicating with drugs and alcohol, violence, and self-loathing leading to depression and nihilism. They learn new skills for coping.

hands hanging outside prison cell

When their sentences are over and they transition back into society, armed with this knowledge, their chances of re-offending are mitigated. In other words, traumatized people with good coping skills don’t create additional traumatized people. (

The cycle of violence is broken.

Bird leaving cage
The cycle of violence is broken.

TOT volunteer facilitators are trained and equipped to lead a group of victims in a creative, faith-affirming way. Peer-to-peer support is a foundational feature of TOT. Survivors helping one another. Raising one another up. Providing needed mental health help that is affordable, welcoming of all, and proven to work.

From within these supported survivors arise additional volunteer facilitators and leaders. Help for more and more victims of violence multiples exponentially. Unsupported victims don’t become perpetrators. And fewer victims of violence are created.

Triumph Over Trauma is a proven method to help victims of violence learn better ways of coping with their trauma. These victims become survivors. They don’t engage in dysfunctional behaviors that turn them into perpetrators.

What would you do to prevent more school shootings or mass shootings, or suicides?

Start a Triumph Over Trauma group in your religious community.

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