The majority of school shooters are male, and the vast majority were active students at the school where they committed the crime. There is a strong revenge theme among these individuals, with 75 percent of them reporting that they were unfairly treated by their teachers or peers. While they rarely have specific targets in mind, they often kill in random groups to inflict the most amount of harm. Psychological profiles of these individuals also reveal that they tend to be socially awkward, have few close friends, and retreat into fantasy when under extreme stress.
Researchers have found that three out of five school shooters had suicidal thoughts before the attack. Psychopaths tend to have a higher rate of suicide ideations than other types of shooters, but those who were not suicidal did not necessarily follow through with the plan. Suicidal ideations were more likely among those who had psychological problems, including trauma, depression, and narcissism.
The Social Rejection of School Shooters: A Common Cause of Mass Killings? In recent years, social rejection of school shooters has gained much attention, and a social rejection of one form or another has been linked to more than 260 mass shootings since the beginning of the twentieth century. Although the reasons for social rejection are many and varied, there is one common thread: the shooter’s distaste for social interaction. One theory holds that social rejection causes multiple victim attacks, and perpetrators may seek revenge against a specific victim or victims. However, such individual-level targeting of victims seems to be inconsistent with the randomness of the method of operation in multiple-victim incidents. For example, Kipland Kinkle, who fired several rounds into a crowded dining hall, and Harris and Klebold, who planted propane bombs outside the cafeteria at
Lack of social support
A recent study found that nearly three quarters of school shooters experienced bullying. This absence of social support at school is an important risk factor. Moreover, the shooter Dylan Klebold was depressed two years before the Columbine shooting. In general, most people who feel suicidal do not kill others, so the lack of social support at school is a major risk factor. However, this does not necessarily mean that all shooters are prone to mental illness or suicidal tendencies.
Traumatic exposure to violence
Recent research has shown that prior exposure to violent events significantly increases the risk of developing PTSD or other psychiatric disorders following a mass shooting. Researchers analyzed 49 studies that examined the psychological effects of mass shootings and concluded that those who were exposed to the event were more likely to develop psychiatric disorders. This finding is particularly concerning because the traumatic event is often a life-changing experience for individuals.
Recent media reports have focused on the relationship between violent video games and school shootings. But a new study suggests the two are not necessarily related. The study of 169 college students examined the psychological profile of mass shooters based on their video game playing habits. The shooters featured in the article were either African-American or white. The researchers found that the shooters who were White were more likely to blame video games for their actions compared to those who were Black.