I was delighted to receive feedback from readers following the publication of Lethal Copycats. Here I discuss some of those thoughts within the context of the psychology of a school shooter.
I wrote Lethal Copycats, with only Google as my major resource and compassion for the victims of mass school shootings. Based on the feedback received from all of you (thanks!), it appears that there are many angles and situations that could be explored. One fan sent me two links exploring the tragedies in school shooting and an article on What Led Jaylen Fryberg To Commit the Deadliest High School Shooting in a Decade? What both articles drove to home to me, is how hard it is to draw up a general profile of a mass shooter.
I was reading Iain Overton’s “The Way of the Gun: A Bloody Journey into the World of Firearms.” Hidden in a sea of information that the investigative journalist unearthed, are points that may have been lost on his detractors. He cites the difficulties inherent in profiling mass shooters (most of them are dead). But I found the mention of one 2001 study to be of interest. This survey of 41 adolescent mass murderers found that 34% were loners, and 44% had a preoccupation with weapons. Another study of 34 American mass shooters showed that only 23% has a recorded history of mental illness. But the takeaway was that 71% of them had been bullied.
Now, that is not to say that every child that is bullied goes on to become a shooter or that this factor alone can replace the need for seeking comprehensive solutions beyond sensible gun laws. Indeed, there are many different psychological theories as to which environmental or innate factors drive school shootings. Given that people have profiled serial killers, this type of research is understandable. I did also come across an article speaking about geneticists looking at the DNA of Adam Lanza, the person responsible for the Sandy Hook massacre. However, this article appeared in 2012, and so far nothing has been published.
Taken together, there are lots of suggestions and people are frustrated at not getting clear answers or solutions. Is it any wonder that this frustration spills over on to the Internet and comments sections of books written about the subject. Sometimes the messenger, in this case the writer, gets “shot” for not providing all the answers.
I am very interested in exploring the psychological angles and following up with people who claim to have solutions e.g., Here's How To Prevent The Next School Shooting, Experts Say. Stay tuned for any updates, if I am able to score interviews with some experts.