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School shootings and mental illness

  1. Oct 29, 2009 #1
    People are soo quick to criticize mainstream media outlets for playing videos that contained the manifesto's of school shooters , as if the shooter's manifesto wouldn't have leaked onto youtube if the mainstream media decided not to play it; probably would have been a viral video . I also noticed people outside the mainstream media in general seem to blame news corporations and not society at large for giving these shooters the proper airtime. Society wants to see people act violently for the same reason they wanted to see a rambo movie or the movie the Thing; Like sex, VIOLENCE SELLS! Society would rather see acts of violence , no matter how gruesome , rather than talk about the pertinent issues these individuals might have dealt with everyday that lead up to these tragic incidents like Columbine and the virginia tech shootings. Otherwise, we would not be talking why school shootings occur only when a school shooting is occuring.

    Another thing the media seems to love to do is draw away attention from the real issue at hand and use school shootings as an excuse to talk about hot-button issues like gun control or blame video games or the lyrics of certain musical artists for "inspiring" the person commit violence. The issue that people should be discussing is mental illness, not gun control, not violence, mental illness ; America has always had a high degree of violence compared to other nations, since its formation and there have not been a recoreded isolated incident where people have gone on mass school shooting sprees , even though American society was more violent in the period of the late 1800's than it is now ;

    Given the high degree of bloodshed that occurs during these shootings sprees, it is quick to demonized the shooter as a one-dimensional monster similar to the characteristics that Grendel exhibits in the epic story Beowulf ; In order to prevent these kinds of tragic events from occurring again, people need to properly identify the source of the problem; It might be easy for most of us to envisioned the shooter as a monster, but from their perspective, maybe he/she see the people around as inhumane monsters and therefore feels like the only human on the planet. Maybe their brain is wired that way. Maybe they is a megomanic. Maybe he was psychological abuse, just like a dog would react violentlyif he had been abuse by his owner to that degree. I have had such feelings about the human race before and still have those sorts of feelings about some generic features of the human race every once in a while, but I was/am able to put up a block away those feelings by focusing on other things that bring me pleasure and self-satisfaction. Some people are just not strong enough to build a blockade to block out such thoughts and so either take their life, or take their life and the lives of those people who they see as un-empathetic monsters, for what ever reason , maybe they are not strong enough or their mind is too weak to allow them to build such a blockade. I am not trying to make excuses for the school shooter, the school shootings should be blamed on the shooter, but I think we should put blame on society too. No one truly lives in a vacuum and Society affects how we behave to some degree.

    Overall, I contend that society doesn't acknowledge mental illness like other societal issues li, because I don't think we take the issue of mental illness seriously enough or people want the issue to be swept under the rug by suggesting that these people be locked away from society, as if the problem would go away; There should probably be major reforms in psychotherapy and better techniques that need to be better developed by specialists whose specialty is supposedly understanding mental illnesses. I think society needs to change their attitudes about mental illness just like society has changed its attitude about racism, sexism and homosexuality at some point in history . whats your opinion? Do you think the solution would be to people these people in hospitals like we used to do with mental patients up until the 1960's?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 29, 2009 #2
    Well... I actualy happen to have a mental illness. My personal opinion is that the vast majority of the steriotypes have some truth to them. From what I have seen of people with mental illness there is a less rational aspect to it. However... The real nuts are the people who police these people. From what I have seen of the mental health provider types they are almost all on mega power trips and enjoy the fact that they can have someone put into a hospitial at a whim simply if they say something they dont like. Its not fun walking around knowing that if you do something someone else doesnt think is logical you could go to a type of jail. I think most of societys problems come from people giving away there rights by not standing up for them. If you give away a right it doesnt just hurt you it hurts everyone except for the person you gave the right up to. I have personaly been put in a "quiet room" for pushing a group of 6 cops who were called in to put someone else in a "quiet room" because they said they didnt want to take there "meds" and the nurse kept asking will you take your "meds" as if the person had no other choice. In general I think society itself is a problem but societys probably will always exist mostly because it is possible to lie and lies can be a way to gain power. What I think could possibly help at least some is if people understood that having power thru lies costs you something that you really should not want to lose.
  4. Oct 30, 2009 #3
    Gee , I was hoping to generate some discussion on this topic because I think its really important. Is this topic just too controversial for most of you guys, or is my OP too long to fully take in?
  5. Oct 30, 2009 #4


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    I think that people are trying to figure out how to and/or whether to respond to a rant with unsubstiated claims like "Society would rather see acts of violence . . . . ". In addition, there are some gross oversimplifications "I contend that society doesn't acknowledge mental illness like other societal issues li, because . . . .".

    One is a self-appointed spokesperson for all of society?
  6. Oct 30, 2009 #5


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    Many Nazis sincerely believed Jews to be the pestilential rats of human society, and therefore, it was not only legitimate, but obligatory, to kill them.

    Wat was your point again?
  7. Oct 30, 2009 #6
    What do you suggest we do noble?
  8. Oct 30, 2009 #7
    Aren't you trying to act as the spokeman for PF's users when you say a statement like "...I think that people are trying to figure out whether to respond to a rant..." the thing you accuse me of practicing? You probably did not ask all PF's users about their thoughts on my OP. I didn't mean all of society and I never said I was the spokemen for all of society, but there is a substantial element of society that likes to see violence for fun. How are any of my claims unsubstantiated? If you compared the movies, tv shows, videos games, and other forms of mass media today to fifty years ago, you will see that popular movies did not consists of a lot of bloodshed.If my claim were not true, then why do you think all of the school shooters seek attention through instigating shooting sprees and not openly talking about their personal problems they have with other people? I can infer that society expects you not to be open with other people about mental issues you are dealing with or there is some social stigma attached to it. If you don't think an element of society likes to see violence, why are all the popular tv shows violent(CSI, and there many spin off's, the Wire, 24,the soprano's , )? , and popular movies(the Goodfellas, rambo, 300, saving private ryan, Godfather, etc) and of course video games(mortal kombat, resident evil, all of the grand theft auto's).Answer me this question: If we did not want to see the violent shooting spree, why does the news report it if the audience would rather not see it?
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2009
  9. Oct 30, 2009 #8
    My point is , not everyone is born this way, especially teenagers. Most people are not born evil. The Nazis and most of the people Germany were brain washed to have these attitudes about the jews just like whites at one time in US history were taught to believe that blacks were inferior to whites through mass media and culture. The germans did not want to eliminate the jews before hitler came to power. I am sure that most of the school shooters did not start out hating groups of people. How do you propose we prevent school shooting from occurring less and less if we don't takethe time to observe the behavior patterns thats typical of school shooters and being open about discussing our mental ailments; What I think would relieve a severely depressed person is empathy, not sympathy.
  10. Oct 30, 2009 #9


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    noblegas, is your primary concern school shootings, or society's awareness of mental illness? They're very different issues.

    School shootings get lots of media attention, for sure. And yes, it must be terrifying for the people involved.

    Yet, objectively, it's extremely rare. Your chances of being shot while at a school have to be orders of magnitude smaller than being hit and killed while crossing the street, or dying from a bee sting.

    But I agree that the public generally misunderstands mental illness. For example, most people believe "schizophrenia" means having multiple personalities.

    The vast majority of people with mental illness are not dangerous.
  11. Oct 30, 2009 #10
    Yes all people with mental illnesses are not dangerous , but lots of school shooters must have some sort of mental illness thats not being addressed by parents or those around them, whether they may feel tormented inside/are abused/neglected or they are just megalomaniacs that have a superiority complex.

    I was not trying to imply that school shootings are common occurences, but neither is murder or child abuse or cancer, but those issues get their proper air time for discussion. I mentioned school shootings because they are the effect of from the psychosis of the school shooter, be it internally or external mechanisms.
  12. Oct 30, 2009 #11


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    Are you saying that you think these kids that turned to murder were just depressed? There is cetainly more going on than depression. It's really not possible to tell if a kid that's been bullied, has feelings of inadequacy, abused by parents, etc.. will turn to murder.

    The notion of Jews being a problem was not invented by Hitler, it was a belief that was fueled by him and is certainly off topic in a discussion of kids becoming murderers.

    You are all over the place in this thread. Can you come up with something more specific to discuss?
  13. Oct 30, 2009 #12
    Hmm. Well, there's quite alot there, but one thing I wanted to comment on was the notion of historical nostalgia, which I agree with the OP about. While there have certainly been a number of well-publicized school shootings in the past twenty years, the violent crime rate in general has not been increasing, and in fact has declined since the mid nineties. http://www.disastercenter.com/crime/uscrime.htm

    It can be easy to take a nostalgic view of the past. I think violence in popular entertainment has certainly increased since say, the 1950s, but there is alot more popular entertainment as well.

    Have there been any controlled studies comparing consumption of violent media with violent tendencies?
  14. Oct 30, 2009 #13


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    Nope. One made various claims. I made no claims, but stated an opinion as an opinion, and I asked a question.

    and support one's claims?

    Anti-semitism was alive and thriving in Europe well before Hitler. He just took advantage of an unfortunately too prevalent attitude. One can read James Carroll's Constantine's Sword: The Church and the Jews: A History and David Kertzer's The Popes Against the Jews: The Vatican's Role in the Rise of Modern Anti-Semitism.

    What is the relevance of Hitler to the discussion of trends in violence on modern society or school shootings by mentally ill people?
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2009
  15. Oct 30, 2009 #14
    I never said anti-semitism did not exist. I said that Germans would have never demonized jews to such a high degree if Hitler did not rise to power in a relatively short period of time and propped up anti-semitic propaganda to the degree where germans wanted to eliminate jews off the face of the planet. Yes, Jews have been the scapegoats throughout human history, their may have been an anti-semitic presence in Germany prior to Hitler's rise to power, but there was not a push to exterminate the Jews off the face of the and other minorities. These attitudes are created by the culture a person resides in, they are not entirely ingrained within us. See the Milgram experiment http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milgram_experiment . I hope my point on that subtopic is clear

    How specific do you want me to get? The intended thesis of the thread is that we should not demonized the school shooter, but properly examined the events that the shooter was a part of that lead to the school shootings. Not sympathize with the school shooter , only try to understand why would carry out such actions. Otherwise, we will never prevent future school shootings.
  16. Oct 30, 2009 #15


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    Nevertheless, kids who are abused, in poverty, or depressed are much more likely to commit violent crimes (like school shootings). If you select a random person and make them live the same kind of life, they may not turn out very different. That's why I oppose people who make Nazis, school shooters, terrorist bombers, and the like seem like monsters bent on destruction. They're not; they're human beings who had exactly the wrong mix of genetics, upbringing, and experiences to be considered evil by society.

    The Jews were first mentioned by arildno, not noblegas, and noblegas was simply responding to his comments.
  17. Oct 30, 2009 #16
    One of the responders brought up the topic of nazi germany and I answered his question about nazi's beliefs about the jews. I didn't make the analogy between school shooters and the nazi's

    I never said my claims were facts. Just my opinions based on my observations
  18. Oct 30, 2009 #17


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    I'll ask again, noblegas, what specifically is your point?

    Kids with the same feelings of inadequacy do not turn to murder, the number that have is infinitesimal. Are you claiming that there is some way to determine which will become criminally insane?
  19. Oct 30, 2009 #18
    Thats it. kids don't have the same feelings of inadequacy. Our brains are not wired the same way. you have norms and deviations and you have deviations within the deviation population. No, I am not claiming that there is some quick fix cure to heal the criminally insane. I think there should be thorough critical examinations of all school shooters backgrounds and I am not suggesting that the background of all school shooters are the same. Some school shooters are megalomaniacs and some school shooters were bullied or severely physically or mentally abused. We should still find patterns between all the school shooters to predict and prevent the next school shooting. We can ask questions like , why many of them are teenagers and young adults? ? Shouldn't we strive for a society that doesn't have these kinds of social problems like school shootings even if they rarely occur?

    Based on strictly anecdoctal evidence(not necessarily from personal experience) , there are some kids who do have those irrational feelings of sometimes fantasize about wanting to murder the school population because in their head , they believe that society has wrong them and is unempathetic to their situation, but they turn those negative feelings into something positive by focusing on a hobby or developing a skill of some sort. These kids build a wall to blocked out such feelings. But some kids are not strong enough to hold the wall together and they lacked the support system thats needed to recoil against such feelings and let those negative feelings overwhelm there mind and they start acting upon their negative feelings .
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2009
  20. Oct 30, 2009 #19


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    Out of how many many millions of kids have there been ones that murdered their fellow students in school? What percentage of students is that? Not common at all. They can be counted on one hand? Just the media attention that makes it stand out? It's bad that some have snapped, but it's not something that is a common occurence that requires that every student be folowed.
  21. Oct 30, 2009 #20
    I think that is because these are the people who attend school. There are examples of adults going on shooting rampages at their places of employment. The victims of these sort of incidents tend to be the immediate peers of the shooters.
  22. Oct 30, 2009 #21

    Not suggesting background checks like metal detectors or any form of surveillance. I was thinking that their needs to maybe be some reforms in perhaps in the mental health industry , because didn't Cho seung-hui go see a psychiatrist and he was allowed to go back to school?9/11 was a rare event, should we not have proceeded to take extra precautions and understand why the 9/11 highjackers attacked the US and re-examine US foreign policy even though our foreign policy influences many countries and regions of the world outside the middle east, but most middle-easterners and most people of countries affected by our foreign policy did not attack us. Even though murder is not as rare as school shootings , it is still rare for a murder to occure for there are only 16000 murders a year (http://www.disastercenter.com/crime/uscrime.htm) and there are 300,000,000 people in the US; Yet, murder is not could a not consider a minor issue. It is not a common occurence, but we should still be prepared if an incident like this occurs. It could be anyone's children who become victims of a school shooting frenzy. Just because it is not a common occurence means that there should not be a discussion on school shootings? Should that one exception to the rule be ignored just because they might be a rarity.
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2009
  23. Oct 30, 2009 #22


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    It's too rare to be something that requires any special task force.

    Certainly anyone that notices unusual anti-social behavior, especially violent tendencies in a child should address it, but as far as I know, there is no way to tell if a child crosses the line and becomes criminally insane. Wouldn't it be lovely if there was a way to test for that?
  24. Oct 30, 2009 #23
    As someone who was in high school during the Columbine incident, i can tell you, there was ALOT of discussion on this subject. I remember being pulled out of class because I was wearing a Less then Jake (rock band) shirt that featured a kid with a pez gun. There also some rather interesting security drils. We had this "code" where it would be announced that "the visitor from the redwood school district woul be visiting." That was the signal for all teachers to lock the door of the classroom.

    Of course, since the hypothetical shooter would probably have been attending the school, he would have known this procedure and had a school full of kids locked into their rooms... I guess the assumption was that he wouldn't be able to blow the door lock off.
  25. Oct 30, 2009 #24
    Another humorous link in respond to a post of yours:

  26. Oct 30, 2009 #25
    I don't mean prepare for a school shooting like preparing for a fire or tornado drill. I mean prevent events that could lead up to school shootings by trying to understand why the school shooter would commit such acts, especially if he has no record shooting anyone before and they commit shootings at such a young age. Were there any autopsy reports done on the brains of school shooters like Cho and the Columbine duo? I know there was an autopsy report done on the arbor texas school shooter charles whitman and he had a brain tumor but haven't heard anything about the autopsy reports of recent school shooters.

    Being pulled out of class for wearing the attire that the school shooters happened to be wearing does not seem much like a discussion.
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