Giving Compass' Take:

· Writing for FiveThirtyEight, Maggie Koerth-Baker addresses the relationship between mass shootings and suicides and debates if suicide prevention is an effective way to prevent mass shootings.

· How can donors support gun violence research? 

· Read about strategies to prevent shootings in America.

Imagine a doctor who wanted to treat a broken leg with chemotherapy. Or treat cancer with a cast.

Just because cancer and broken legs are both things that happen to the body doesn’t mean they call for the same treatment. These are the kinds of issues policymakers face every day. Take gun violence. It feels like one big problem, but it’s actually a bunch of different problems that don’t necessarily have a single cause. So when somebody wants to, say, prevent mass shootings with a policy that originated as a suicide-prevention tool, it’s reasonable to have some questions about whether that makes any sense.

And that’s exactly what’s happening with “red flag laws,” the gun legislation model of the moment, which even many gun-control-averse Republicans have supported in the wake of mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. Studies have shown that state-level versions of these laws have been effective at preventing suicide. But can they actually address the separate issue of mass shootings? Surprisingly, experts think they could. And that’s because — just like a fragile, cracked bone could be a symptom of certain kinds of cancers — researchers are finding evidence that suicides and mass shootings can often be different expressions of the same problem.

“Many of these mass shootings are angry suicides,” says James Densley, professor of criminal justice at Minnesota’s Metropolitan State University.

Read the full article about preventing mass shootings and suicides by Maggie Koerth-Baker at FiveThirtyEight.