GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A Grand Rapids-based nonprofit wants to create a National Violence Prevention Hotline to combat gun violence across the states.
The 24/7 number would be aimed at catching potential perpetrators before they carry out any violent act and instead connect them with local help and resources.
“The idea is very similar to the National Prevention Suicide Lifeline,” Paul Krauss, licensed counselor, said. “The difference is instead of seeking people who are feeling like a victim, saying I might kill myself. We’re looking for people in the planning stages of violent acts.”
While the phone line is not live yet due to funding constraints, since the group’s website went live, Kraus said he and other mental health experts have helped several people who’ve emailed in for help.
“Our philosophy is this: if you are considering homicide, you are suicidal. It’s just that you are the potential perpetrator of a crime and you have many of the same symptoms that a suicidal person has except mixing in the anger and opportunity for violence,” he said.
The hotline and website will offer a tiered system to help family members and friends who may wish to remain anonymous.
“Some people fear the police. They don’t trust the police. So we would be some sort of intermediary,” he said. However, “there are going to be times where our hotline would have to contact the police to get them involved depending on the situation.”
The organization is staffed by a wide range of experts volunteering their time one day a week to help. Krauss is working to attain additional grants and funding so that they can staff the hotline and website chat around the clock.
“Our idea is this if you are calling and getting help and turning in your weapons or whatever you are going to commit a crime with the justice system is going to take a more rehabilitative stance on you than somebody who commits the crime,” he said.