School Shooters and Mental Health Awareness

Alex Baker

Disclaimer: I do not support nor approve of any shooter or school violence that has occurred. I am only sharing another aspect to the problem I think needs to be addressed more seriously.

Some say that guns are the only problems, and we should get rid of all of them. Others say that it is only mental health that is the issue. I, however, think it is both. Guns and mental health both need to be addressed seriously. The person behind the the trigger is the one with thoughts which affect their actions. I do believe we need more gun control and a tighter outlook on who owns guns and their reasoning towards ownership, but if any student thinks that their only solution is to shoot a school, that’s where mental health comes into play. School shooters have been led to believe that there are no other options besides hurting people. As “Inside the Mind of School Shooters” by Dr. Langman had stated that the tension of the shooter builds up over time and anything could push them over, them being isolated, getting bullied by kids, home problems, they may hear voices talking to them and so on. I feel like no kid should be lead to this option, and we have to let them know there is another way.

Washington Post has stated that the first recorded school shooting in the U.S. took place in 1840 when a law student shot and killed his professor in University of Virginia. The events that transpired on the day of April 20, 1999 is when people started to fear the most. In Colorado at Columbine High, 12 students were killed by Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris. They also killed a teacher and then themselves. In 1998, they were charged with theft, criminal mischief, and criminal trespassing. Dr. Langman had diagnosed Dylan Klebold with schizotypal personality disorder. This disorder is often described as people who are “odd” or have very few, if any, close relationships. As said in “Schizotypal Personality Disorder” by Mayo Clinic Staff, schizophrenic patients do not understand how relationships work or are unaware of the impact that their actions have on others. As Psychology Today has stated, “a key aspect of Klebold’s mental illness was severe depression and suicidal thoughts, both commonly found in people with schizotypal personality disorder given their general sense of worthlessness and social isolation.” This disorder could possibly lead to depression, suicide attempts, relationship problems, and other personality disorders.

Dr. Langman, a published physician who maintains membership in the American Pediatric Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatric Sports Medicine, stated in an article called “School Shooters – Inside Their Mind,” that kids who shoot up schools do not just “snap” and wake up one day – everything that happens builds up to that moment. For example, these kids are not just classified as loners; they are also classified as outsiders. Psychology Today has said that outsiders are kids who get bullied regularly, and some come dysfunctional families. They are often the ones without friends or a clique. In an article, “Coping with Cliques,” D’Arcy Lyness, PhD, says that sometimes cliques or tight friend groups can make a kid, who is not in one, feel left out. Simply asking someone, who you don’t talk too regularly, if they want to hang out does not just expand their inner circle but yours as well, so it’s a win-win!

Personally, I believe taking away all guns is not fixing the full problem. Mental health needs to be taken seriously along with gun control itself. Since school shooters are mostly classified as “outsiders,” I feel as if just complimenting people or asking about their day will go a long way. A way to help kids with mental health issues before making any rash decisions would be paying close to attention to them, talking to them, or getting help from an adult, so the issue will be resolved. Even if the person may not want help, they need it and even showing the slightest interest in them can be viewed an act of compassion. I personally believe if we pay more attention to our peers and get help for them, the number of school shootings will eventually decrease.