Could We Phenotype Mass Killers and Prevent Murder-Suicides?
Criminology and criminal justice professors Jillian Peterson and James Densley, funded by the National Institute of Justice, compiled life histories of 180 American mass public-place shooters since 1966 and all mass shootings in schools, workplaces, and places of worship since 1999, in their 2021 book The Violence Project: How to Stop a Mass Shooting Epidemic. They identified shooter characteristics: male, early childhood trauma (violence in the home, sexual assault, parental suicide, extreme bullying), hopelessness, despair, isolation, self-loathing, rejection by peers, previous suicide attempts. Self-hate turned outward to blame a group: a race, a religious congregation, women, school classmates. A quest for fame, notoriety, or a desire to perform a copy-cat act — a form of social contagion. Almost all planned to commit violent suicide along with mass homicide as their final act.
@raju Labelling the climax of this experiential psychopathologic cascade as "pure evil," "terrorism," "hate crime," or "the acts of monsters" explains, solves, and prevents nothing. Before they were shooters, they were sons, grandsons, neighbors, and classmates. Shortly before the mass killing, many shooters gave out signals, possibly "cries for help," such as purchasing assault weapons and a plethora of ammunition soon after attaining an age of eligibility, hinting or boasting to acquaintances, making a call to a mental health facility, or posting on social media.