Penn State Beaver to host symposium on mental health and violence

Students flee the building during an active shooter training drill at Penn State Beaver.

Students flee the building during an active shooter training drill at Penn State Beaver.

Credit: Brooke Doerfler

MONACA, Pa. — The story is frighteningly familiar now.

Someone descends on an unsuspecting crowd. In the aftermath of the violence, those close to the offender realize the warning signs were there, delicate, subtle and unfolding over time.

But how do we learn to recognize and act on them?

That’s what Penn State Beaver’s two-day System Failures of Mental Health Symposium will attempt to answer. The symposium brings a panel of experts and the families of both victims and offenders together with local teachers, administrators, mental health professionals and law enforcement to discuss the failures of our existing systems and the opportunities for new systems.

Public school teachers and administrators; mental health professionals; students, faculty and staff of colleges and universities; criminal justice professionals; victims of violence; and families of violent perpetrators are invited to participate. Registration is $50 per individual or $300 for organizations sending up to 20 employees.

The first event begins at 8:30 a.m. Oct. 9 at Ambridge Area High School Auditorium, where a panel will address the warning signs of mental illness that may serve as precursors to violence in our public schools, communities and criminal justice system.

The members of the panel will include:

  • Bob and Arlene Holmes, whose son walked into a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, on the opening night of “The Dark Knight” in 2012 and methodically killed 12 people and injured 70 more.
  • Jerry, Kasi and Shinai Grzebielski, whose son and brother’s violent killing spree left three people dead, including his mother.
  • LaVarr McBride, administration of justice faculty member at Penn State Beaver, who has been a leading voice in criminal justice, particularly on the topic of violent offenders.

From 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 10, Penn State Beaver will host a discussion featuring the families listed above, followed by small-group sessions focused on various topics surrounding mental illness, including school violence, media portrayal of mental health, and trauma’s effect on victims.

To register for one or both days, fill out the online form. The deadline to register is Sept. 17.


April Johnston

Public Relations Director, Penn State Beaver

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