Monday, June 13, 2016

Florida Psychiatrists Respond to Mass Shooting in Orlando

The slaughter of 49 patrons of a gay night club in Orlando, Fla., early Sunday morning was exceptional in its horror only in that more people died than in any other mass shooting in U.S. history.

“We are deeply saddened by the senseless violence in Orlando this weekend,” said APA President Maria A. Oquendo, M.D., in a statement. “The notion that the potential motive for targeting the patrons of this nightclub was because of their sexual orientation is disturbing. ... We offer our deepest sympathy and condolences to the victims and their families. APA is a healing organization and our members will be there to help the community of Orlando heal.”

The motives of the gunman, Omar Mateen, who was eventually killed by police, were not entirely clear. News reports said he previously had made antigay remarks, and he declared his allegiance to the Islamic State (ISIS) during the attack.

In Orlando, Florida Psychiatric Society (FPS) members were beginning to work with the Zebra Coalition, a network of organizations that provide services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth, said FPS Executive Director Margo Adams.

Other members are working with the mayor’s office to assist citizens who are calling there for help. Psychiatrists from elsewhere in the state are likely to become involved as well, since club patrons were not only from the Orlando area.

“Mass shootings are a far-too-common form of terrorism in our nation,” said Robert Ursano, M.D., chair of APA’s Committee on Psychiatric Dimensions of Disaster. “Terrorists attack the fault lines in our society, at the boundaries of sexual preference or race or ethnicity, so it’s important for our nation and our communities to stand together.”

More coverage of the events in Orlando will appear in the July 1 issue of Psychiatric News.

(AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)


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