Mass Shooting Tragedies
We come across increasing media reports of mass shootings claiming the lives of hundreds of innocent people. These shootings take place in schools, religious places of worship, malls, and many other public places. Theses tragic events seem to be random acts of violence carried out by a ruthless, most likely mentally ill individual. In the case of school shootings, the perpetrator is often a student who may have been a victim themselves of bullying. Attempts to reduce the incidence of these tragic events are being made through the reform of existing gun laws. This is seen as a preventative measure to lessen the likelihood that a gun could be accessed by individuals with ill intent. However, research has found that the states in the United States with the most restrictive gun laws saw a 53% increase in the risk of a mass shooting event, so gun laws seem to be one piece to a larger puzzle.
The Mental Health of A Mass Shooter
It is important we examine the risk factors that could predict an individual’s chances of engaging in acts of violence against innocent people in addition to the reform of gun laws. A study published in the Journal of Loss and Trauma explores the myriad of risk factors that can be identified specifically in the case of the student responsible for the Virginia Tech shooting. The risk factors discussed in the study focus exclusively on the student’s environment and its ultimate influence on him claiming the lives of his peers.
Could there be psychiatric risk factors as well that can help bring us closer to understanding how and why these mass shootings occur?
Below are 6 risk factors that describe psychological characteristics commonly present among mass shooters.
These risk factors give us some insight into the mental health and psychological dynamics of these perpetrators of mass shootings, that the individuals that commit these crimes may not necessarily have a mental illness, however, the presence of these characteristics predict a potential for engaging in acts of violence.
6 Psychiatric Risk Factors
1. Social Isolation/Rejection
3. Self-Esteem Issues
4. Persecutory Delusions/ Paranoia
5. Suicidal Ideation
Considering All The Factors
An individual may present all of these characteristics and never commit acts of violence against others. Specifically, in the case of mass shooters, it seems to be a multifactorial situation, in which psychological/psychiatric factors interact with environmental factors leading the shooter to engage in an act of violence.
It is important to open up the conversation and take into account the many aspects influencing these types of events so that we can work as a community to prevent these tragedies in the future.
Disclaimer: All information, content, and material contained in this article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to serve as a substitute for the consultation, diagnosis, and/or medical treatment of a qualified physician or healthcare provider.