Dr. Sanjay Gupta: How health professionals can help treat gun violence

Sanjay Gupta, MD, neurosurgeon and chief medical correspondent for CNN, wants us to think about gun violence differently.

In light of the deadly shooting last week at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Orgeon, Dr. Gupta wants health professionals to see gun violence as an infectious disease, according to his essay published by CNN.

Dr. Gupta explains the work of Gary Slutkin, MD, who studied the genesis of violence, and found it was both predictable and contagious. Dr. Slutkin's solution for violence comes from trained health professionals, called "interrupters," who mediate violent behavior at the source. Interrupters were used successfully in seven Chicago communities, by speaking to local gang members or others considering violent actions. The communities that used interrupters saw shootings drop by 73 percent, according to data from the National Institute of Justice.

Dr. Gupta suggests interrupters may be part of the solution to interrupt the cycle of gun violence in the U.S., just as an antibiotic helps treat an infection at the source. "Yes this is simple. Too simple perhaps. And surely this is not a complete answer. But a single medication hardly ever is. Thinking of this epidemic of preventable deaths as an infection that can be diagnosed, treated and perhaps cured, I feel more hopeful than I have been in a long time," Dr. Gupta wrote.


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