The St. Louis School Shooting

This afternoon, Megan informed me that there was a mass shooting at a school in St. Louis where two of our friends work. I was relieved to hear that our friends are okay (neither of them were at the school today), but I’m heartbroken for those who were hurt and killed (both today and in any mass shooting, especially those that happen at schools).

Coincidentally, I just recently listened to a fascinating episode of the Science Vs podcast that talks about mass shootings, and while it isn’t the type of topic I typically cover here, it seems like the right thing to do given today’s events.

My biggest takeaway from the podcast is a common thread the researches identified about the type of person who commits mass shootings. By far the highest common denominator is that mass shooters are almost always men, and at 98% it isn’t even close. Many of them are in their 20s.

The other common denominator is that most mass shooters are suicidal. The podcast delves deeper into this, and as it relates to the psychology of suicide, there was a specific question they answered that I’ve wondered for quite a while: Why attack schools?

The theory posited by Science Vs is that many people who have committed mass shootings start by believing there is something wrong with themselves. The longer they sit with self-hatred, the more they shift from the belief that they are the problem to the belief that their world is the problem. They blame formative people and places in their life, and where do we spend the most time growing up? In school.

I’m most certainly of the belief that we need much stricter gun laws in the United States. But this podcast also helped open my eyes to the idea that offering better support for struggling young people–especially young men (98%!?)–could make a significant impact.

I hope you’re safe today. If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, in the U.S. you can call or text 988 to reach the government’s suicide and crisis help line.

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