It starts off with a simple joke, like finger guns during a walk out, and escalates to people making a GoFundMe page so students can shoot up their high school. “It’s all a joke,” but how far does the joke go?
Students around America have had enough with school violence, and are speaking up about their safety in educational environments through walk outs and other protests. One of the best ways to prevent a school shooting from happening is to know the possible signs of a school shooter, and why these shootings occur
“The biggest indication [of a potential shooter] would be if a person is making threats of violence of any sort,” therapist Troy Williams said. “Additionally, if they have acted out violently in the past, past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. Additional indications follow the signs of suicide closely, likely, because most acts of mass violence end in suicidal confrontations.”
There are times everyone gets upset and has irrational thoughts, but some sort of traumatic event typically leads to someone becoming overly violent.
“There is usually some type of very stressful situation that pushes them over the edge, a lot of times up, to that point it could be something [like] they were depressed, abused, or they were abusing drugs,” Kris Wood, psychology major, said. “Something that [hasn’t been] allowing them to have a good self image. They project something upon someone else and then they get to a point where they’re too stressed and something just kind of pushes them over the edge.”
Whenever shootings happen, one of the main questions asked is “why did this happen?”. Everyone gets pushed to their limit from time to time, but why did that push make someone act out violently?
“Let’s be very clear on what causes a person to act out in any type of way, including violently. In all the [five] years I’ve been working with violent offenders, the only common, logical reason that a person hurts another person is because they want to,” Williams said. “The world looks for a logical, rational reason that these types of people commit these crimes [but] there is no logical explanation for an illogical act. Violence will happen if a person wants it to happen. If they want it, they will dedicate everything they have to being successful. If you look at the mass violence episodes that have occurred since 2000, none of them have been impulsive. They’ve been preplanned and premeditated. At times these plans have been rehearsed. It doesn’t matter what the method of attack was, the plan was orchestrated.”
According psychiatryonline.org, less than one percent of shootings are actually caused by someone with mental health problems. Yet, in the media, it’s commonly said that the perpetrator was suffering from some mental illness.
“I think people are quick to label [a shooter] as mentally ill because in some cases they are,” Williams said. “In some cases it gives a semi-rational explanation to an irrational action and some do it because it divorces them of responsibility if they’ve been part of the problem but let me be clear, the fault of the person that commits violence is solely the responsibility of the person that commits violence.”
Since the Florida shooting, schools everywhere have been looking at ways to prevent another violent act from happening again. Students are speaking up about ways to stay safe and prevent the next assault, such as new gun regulations and mental health tests before someone can buy a firearm.
“Staff and students can reach out to those individuals that appear to be struggling, that appear to be isolated,” Williams said. “Rather than mock and ridicule someone that is in emotional pain, they can reach out with compassion and offer help. Most of all, they can report legitimate concerns to appropriate staff so interventions can be put in place.”