The Christian Science Monitor

In Europe, preventing gun violence often starts with mental health

Gaston Poyet, who has run this family store in an arcade in downtown Bern, Switzerland, sells a hunting rifle to a customer who turns his “clean” criminal record over. All the paperwork will then go to the police of Bern. He says when his father opened this store in the 1950s, all they took down was a name. Source: Sara Miller Llana/The Christian Science Monitor

Amid the grief and shock that hung over Germany in 2009, after a student stormed into his own school in Winnenden and shot dead 15 peers, staff, and others, was also a nagging question for psychiatrists like Joachim Nitschke.

Dr. Nitschke spent a career working in a high-security hospital for the dangerously mentally ill, usually sent by the police or the court system.  “It occurred to me we always reacted too late,” says the forensic doctor. “We needed a different approach.”

Stirred by the Winnenden attack, he started a clinic where patients are treated at home, with doctors and social workers visiting them, instead of being institutionalized. He has since treated 200 cases, and Bavaria is creating four new centers, modeled on his clinic.

It’s just one of the ways that Europe preempts tragedy at the hands of those suspected of being dangerous to society because they are

Schools needed to 'be more awake'Swiss screeningPreemptive prevention

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