WASHINGTON, D.C., UNITED STATES, March 13, 2018 / -- “We extend our deepest condolences to the family members, friends, and co-workers of the victims from Friday’s tragedy in Yountville, California,” said Colleen Creighton, Executive Director of the American Association of Suicidology (AAS). “We also recognize that it’s important for the public to understand the role suicide plays in such situations. National experts tell us that suicide is often the primary driving motive in these cases, however more research and understanding of the causes of suicide and violence are needed to help us prevent both suicides and violence.”

Experts from AAS highlight the following points:
1. Although details about the Yountville tragedy are still forthcoming, research suggests that individuals who engage in violence immediately before ending their own lives--commonly referred to as “murder-suicide”--are often motivated by thoughts of suicide more so than thoughts of violence towards others.
2. Easy access to firearms increases the likelihood of tragic outcome when someone is experiencing intense emotional distress.
3. The vast majority of people who are struggling with emotional distress and mental health conditions do not engage in violence towards others. Suicide, as well as mass shootings and other cases of mass violence, are often the result of multiple factors and cannot be well explained by simple motivations. Attempting to attribute an act of violence to someone’s mental illness trivializes the tragedy, reduces understanding, and increases discrimination towards others fighting mental illness.

“VA researchers and clinicians have long been on the frontlines of developing innovative methods for helping veterans struggling with PTSD, suicidal thoughts, and other mental health conditions,” added Dr. Craig Bryan, AAS member and Executive Director of the National Center for Veterans Studies. “The tragic events of Yountville remind us of the significance of this work and highlight our shared responsibility as a society to help those struggling with trauma and suicidal thoughts, whether veteran or not.”

For the media: We urge members of the media to share suicide prevention resources in all of their reports. Responsible reporting on suicide and the inclusion of stories of hope and resilience can prevent more suicides. You can find more information on safe messaging around suicide here.


About AAS: Founded in 1968 by Edwin S. Shneidman, PhD, AAS promotes suicide as a research discipline, public awareness programs, public education and training for professionals and volunteers. The membership of AAS includes mental health and public health professionals, researchers, suicide prevention and crisis intervention centers, school districts, crisis center volunteers, survivors of suicide loss, attempt survivors, and a variety of lay persons who have in interest in suicide prevention. You can learn more about AAS at

Colleen Creighton
American Association of Suicidology
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