January 15, 2014

Some mass murder myths

According to Homicide Studies journal the following presumptions about mass shootings aren't true:

  • Mass murderers snap and kill randomly - Mass murderers typically plan their assaults days, weeks, or months in advance. Their motives are most typically revenge, power, loyalty, terror, and profit.
  • Mass shootings are on the rise - According to FBI data, over the past few decades there has been an average of 20 mass shootings a year in the U.S.
  • Violent entertainment, especially video games are causally linked to mass murder - Scientists have not found a causal link between video games and mass murder; violent video gaming may be a symptom and not a cause of the incidents.
  • There are telltale signs that can help us to identify mass murderers before they act - Murderers tend to be male Caucasians with psychological issues, but these characteristics apply to a very large portion of the population.  
  • Widening the availability of mental-health services will allow unstable individuals to get the treatment they need and decrease mass murders - Increasing mental health facilities may not reach those on the fringe who would turn to murder as many see the blame residing in others, not themselves.
  • Enhanced background checks will keep dangerous weapons out of the hands of murderers - A recent examination of 93 mass shootings from 2009 through September 2013, conducted by Mayors Against Illegal Guns (2013), found no indication that any of the assailants were prohibited by federal law from possessing firearms because of mental illness.
  • Having armed guards at schools will protect students from active shooters - 28% of public schools already employ armed security personal regularly; there is no way for armed guards to sufficiently protect every single one of their students in an event of a mass shooting.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Those supposed myths about mental health are crap.

People do suddenly snap and act out. Their "planning" is in the nature of "how can I get free of those tormenters, they're driving me mad".

The "psychological issues" that lead to mass murder are very rare in the population, even the male half, at the level that will produce a massacre. The issues are probably 95% of the time paranoia and perhaps 5% depression. People believe they're being threatened with dire consequences if they don't do something against their moral code. They successfully resist for a long time, but finally the struggle becomes too much and they take up arms against their persecutors, the same way any of us would in their position. Often, though, in the moment of relief from their delusions after they finish the killing, they realise what they've done, and kill themselves in despair.

Making competent mental health services available, including decent non-warehousing inpatient care, would reduce the number of massacres (which aren't frequent to begin with) to near zero.


The Homicide Studies journal need to find genuinely expert experts and dump the bozos who put out that misinformation.

Anonymous said...

I found it interesting that the anti-depressant angle wasn't mentioned. There have been several articles about that over the years, about how the people who do these shootings frequently are either on such drugs, or are in withdrawal from them. It is well documented, but maybe Homicide Studies takes money from drug companies so they have a vested interest in covering that detail up.

Anonymous said...

t is well documented, but maybe Homicide Studies takes money from drug companies so they have a vested interest in covering that detail up.

That could well be. Chemically-induced paranoia doesn't happen often, but it happens far more often than it should. As you note, there's enough evidence for the syndrome that anyone on anti-depressants should be closely monitored until a stable regimen is found, and then for 3-6 months after.