Mass School Shootings: Is Mental Illness Responsible? Study Reveals

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Mass School Shootings

Mental Health News

A research team at Columbia University Irving Medical Center and the New York State Psychiatric Institute (NYSPI) examined the link between mental illness and mass school shootings. The study is published in the Journal of Forensic Sciences.

The Study

The researchers analyzed data from the Columbia Mass Murder Database (CMMD). They picked out 82 mass murders that occurred in academic settings (schools, colleges, and universities) throughout the world. They analyzed factors like psychiatric illness in murderers and the type of firearm used to perpetrate such mass murders.

The Findings

The results revealed that most mass murderers and mass shooters did not have a severe mental illness. Instead, they are motivated by a large number of sociocultural factors like romanticization of guns, gun violence, delusional notions of power, etc. For instance, most murderers use semi- or fully-automatic firearms to carry out their crimes.

The authors added: “Our findings suggest that mass school shootings are different from other forms of mass murder, and that they should be looked at as a distinct phenomenon. Focusing on mental illness when talking about mass school shootings risks is missing other factors that contribute to the cases, as well as exacerbating the already widespread stigma surrounding severe mental illness.

To Know More You May Refer To

Girgis, R. R., Rogers, R. T., Hesson, H., Lieberman, J. A., Appelbaum, P. S., & Brucato, G. (2022). Mass murders involving firearms and other methods in school, college, and university settings: Findings from the Columbia Mass Murder Database. Journal of Forensic Sciences. https://doi.org/10.1111/1556-4029.15161

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