Signs, Signs, Everywhere Signs
Posted on Mar 20, 2018
Do this, don’t do that, we are bombarded by signs that dictate a course of preferred behaviors throughout our daily lives. Almost all of these signs are easy to recognize as they garner our attention with their vibrant colors and clear messages. However, identifying potentially deadly behaviors is not as clear cut a task.
What causes the rise in mass shootings?
In recent years we have seen a dramatic increase in violent encounters and deadly outcomes within the schools and workplaces of the United States. It is estimated that there is a mass shooting – defined as four or more people shot in one incident, 9 out of every 10 days on average within the United States1Innocent lives are being lost at a rate never seen before and there is no apparent remedy for this national epidemic. But, is there a way to better recognize the possible indicators of a person that is contemplating a mass shooting?
Mass shooters tend to have common psychological and behavioral characteristics2Depression, resentment, and social isolation appear to be key indicators of persons with intentions of mass harm to others on their radar. Additionally, characteristics such as a significant interest in weaponry or an excessive fascination with graphically violent gaming media are also shown to be a commonality amongst persons committing mass shootings. Perhaps most interesting to learn is that there is a tendency to externalize blame for shortcomings rather than to internalize and accept responsibility for consequences. Allen J. Frances M.D. wrote “The mass murderer is an injustice collector who spends a great deal of time feeling resentful about real or imagined rejections and ruminating on past humiliations. He has a paranoid worldview with chronic feelings of social persecution, envy, and grudge-holding. He is tormented by beliefs that privileged others are enjoying life’s all-you-can-eat buffet, while he must peer through the window, an outside loner always looking in. Aggrieved and entitled, he longs for power and revenge to obliterate what he cannot have. Since satisfaction is unobtainable lawfully and realistically, the mass murderer is reduced to violent fantasy and pseudo-power.”3
Signs to watch for
To clarify, this is not to say that a co-worker who is a gun enthusiast will commit a mass murder, but rather that a compilation of the characteristics listed will assist to provide a greater picture of the level of lethology. We all know people that consider themselves to always be the victim, some that are anti-social, and some that are avid video gamers. These traits individually have virtually no bearing towards a person being a mass shooter, but collectively can give reason for a closer look and greater consideration of other warning signs that may be observable. While there is no cookie-cutter template to define the mass shooter with 100% accuracy, here are some characteristics provided by Alamom4 I found worthy of considering:
- 1. Anti-Social Behaviors - Trouble getting along with others, disrespect for authority.
- 2. Vindictiveness - Blaming others for their problems, holding grudges, and celebrating the suffering of others.
- 3. Persistent Anger – Rage, temper tantrums, and excessive yelling, swearing, and use of overly emotional language.
- 4. Violent Thoughts – Repetitive statements about causing harm to others, celebrating rather than commiserating over news of mass shootings.
- 5. Difficulty Holding Jobs – Unsettling behaviors make it difficult to sustain employment. Past behavior is a reliable indicator of future performance.
- 6. Unhealthy Habits – Neglect of personal hygiene, disheveled appearance and a consistent disregard for self may signal emotional turmoil.
Be vigilant and watchful
In regards to the School Shooter, I believe that the most important characteristic to be observed is that of the “bullied” child. The perpetual mistreatment by peers serves only to feed the psyche of retribution. The damage done to the individual who suffers from a daily regimen of bullying is immeasurable. It is imperative that we increase our efforts to recognize the signs of bullying and put into practice a zero tolerance policy.
It is essential that we remain vigilant in our efforts to recognize the warning signs of potential danger in our workplaces, schools, churches, and everywhere in between. Don’t be afraid to report your concerns to administrators or law enforcement. What you don’t say could mean the difference between life and death.
Be aware, proactive, and safe.
President, Bolo Stick LLC