More Shootings, More Divorces, More Single Parent Homes

 

What if we are looking at this incorrectly? What if the number of shootings per year in the last 70 years is X and that corresponds to an average population of 250 million people. Now, we have 350 million people and so we should expect that X to be correspondingly larger in raw numbers — everything else being the same.

Now, here’s my question: what if the actual phenomenon correlates better with, rather than the total population, the population of single-parent homes or homes with children of divorced parents?

Here’s the data over 62 years:

Image result for percentage of single parent households over time

This graph is just to give you an idea of what I’m trying to say here. The number of single-parent homes has gone up considerably. I just bet that these numbers are better ones to look at in order to predict these school shootings. If the likelihood of this kind of dysfunction increases with the number of single-parent families then we need to consider that issue more than gun control.

What do you think? Is there data already compiled to look at this? I mean: rather than worry about what the MSM thinks because they aren’t looking for a solution — they are looking for a narrative scapegoat — what are the real drivers for this? Should we be surprised by these shootings?

The second thing to look at is the schools themselves — are they places that we should send our kids? The schools are run by leftists these days — what can we expect from this? One issue is the anti-male behavior that creates unsafe spaces for our boys. That should be counted, shouldn’t it?

I really can’t read any of the headlines by either side after one of these things happens. I have no interest in re-hashing the same old, tired arguments.

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  1. Larry Koler Inactive
    Larry Koler
    @LarryKoler

    My favorite joke about our schools that are run by women teachers these days:

    Question: “How do you spell ADHD?”

    Answer: “B-O-Y.”

    • #1
  2. Henry Racette Member
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    Larry,

    I think you’re asking the right kinds of questions.

    There aren’t many school shootings. That creates a “small N” problem, and it will be hard to correlate social factors — any factors, really — with the mass shooters that grab our attention.

    On the other hand, if we were to look at all shootings, I suspect we’d pretty quickly come up with some common elements that would include broken homes (are we still allowed to use that phrase?), as you suggest, and probably other things as well: affinity for “first person shooter” video games, lack of male role models, dysfunctional school environments, drug dealing and drug use, etc.

    The issue of gun availability, which is almost always the focus of initial response to crimes like the one in Florida, seems misplaced if one considers that guns are probably no more available today than they were in the past, suggesting that other factors are at play.

    Of course, there is probably a constellation of social pathology linked to the increase in single-parenting, with shootings being merely one particularly striking possible example.

    Good post. Thanks.

    H.

    • #2
  3. Larry Koler Inactive
    Larry Koler
    @LarryKoler

    Henry Racette (View Comment):
    Larry,

    I think you’re asking the right kinds of questions.

    There aren’t many school shootings. That creates a “small N” problem, and it will be hard to correlate social factors — any factors, really — with the mass shooters that grab our attention.

    On the other hand, if we were to look at all shootings, I suspect we’d pretty quickly come up with some common elements that would include broken homes (are we still allowed to use that phrase?), as you suggest, and probably other things as well: affinity for “first person shooter” video games, lack of male role models, dysfunctional school environments, drug dealing and drug use, etc.

    The issue of gun availability, which is almost always the focus of initial response to crimes like the one in Florida, seems misplaced if one considers that guns are probably no more available today than they were in the past, suggesting that other factors are at play.

    Of course, there is probably a constellation of social pathology linked to the increase in single-parenting, with shootings being merely one particularly striking possible example.

    Good post. Thanks.

    H.

    Well, I was thinking of the Freakonomics contention that the drop in overall crime is related to Roe v Wade.

    This school shooting business seems to be an anger issue more than the standard reasons for violence (theft, burglaries and drugs). I know that Jordan Peterson is very worried about how our boys are being treated in school. And here’s the thing: anger at what? These boys seem to want to send a message to institutions (society, the schools, government) more than individuals. Am I right about that? This is different than going postal.

    • #3
  4. Henry Racette Member
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    Larry Koler (View Comment):

    Henry Racette (View Comment):
    Larry,

    I think you’re asking the right kinds of questions.

    There aren’t many school shootings. That creates a “small N” problem, and it will be hard to correlate social factors — any factors, really — with the mass shooters that grab our attention.

    On the other hand, if we were to look at all shootings, I suspect we’d pretty quickly come up with some common elements that would include broken homes (are we still allowed to use that phrase?), as you suggest, and probably other things as well: affinity for “first person shooter” video games, lack of male role models, dysfunctional school environments, drug dealing and drug use, etc.

    The issue of gun availability, which is almost always the focus of initial response to crimes like the one in Florida, seems misplaced if one considers that guns are probably no more available today than they were in the past, suggesting that other factors are at play.

    Of course, there is probably a constellation of social pathology linked to the increase in single-parenting, with shootings being merely one particularly striking possible example.

    Good post. Thanks.

    H.

    Well, I was thinking of the Freakonomics contention that the drop in overall crime is related to Roe v Wade.

    This school shooting business seems to be an anger issue more than the standard reasons for violence (theft, burglaries and drugs). I know that Jordan Peterson is very worried about how our boys are being treated in school. And here’s the thing: anger at what? These boys seem to want to send a message to institutions (society, the schools, government) more than individuals. Am I right about that? This is different than going postal.

    I don’t know. Not arguing — I simply haven’t looked at the cases.

    The shooter survived in Florida, is that right? That makes this an unusual case — and, potentially, a very illuminating one. Maybe we can get some sense of just what kind of aberration drives these tragedies.

    • #4
  5. Larry Koler Inactive
    Larry Koler
    @LarryKoler

    Here’s a good book on what’s been going on in America with regard to boys and men over the last few decades. The one author (Katherine Young) was my daughter’s teacher when she attended McGill around 2000 or so and she loved her and lover her courage as a public intellectual.

    https://www.amazon.com/Spreading-Misandry-Teaching-Contempt-Popular/dp/0773530991

    Highly recommended.

    • #5
  6. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Henry Racette (View Comment):
    There aren’t many school shootings.

    This. Seriously. There are not many school shootings, and those that do happen are encouraged by the amount of media coverage gleaned by the last one. These other factors exist, but they do not turn every boy from a broken home into a school shooter.

    • #6
  7. Chuckles Thatcher
    Chuckles
    @Chuckles

    Another possible contributor – the size of schools and all that is directly related.  Would there not be a drastically different picture if schools were one to ten percent the size of Marjory Stoneman Douglas (3000+)?

    There have been any number of studies showing students do better in smaller schools.

    • #7
  8. drlorentz Member
    drlorentz
    @drlorentz

    Henry Racette (View Comment):
    There aren’t many school shootings. That creates a “small N” problem, and it will be hard to correlate social factors — any factors, really — with the mass shooters that grab our attention.

    This is definitely a concern. Before getting into the issue any deeper, I’d like to see the per capita number of school shootings over the years. It’s not clear to me whether this number has increased or whether there’s more reporting of these events. Every local incident is now national news; this was not always so. It may well be that the number of events divided by population has remained constant, in which case there’s nothing to explain.

    • #8
  9. Jules PA Inactive
    Jules PA
    @JulesPA

    Chuckles (View Comment):
    There have been any number of studies showing students do better in smaller schools.

    The question might be, what are the population sizes of the schools who have suffered these attacks?

    Even if there are connections, it is more likely correlation, not causation.

    I think Jordan Peterson’s word might be multi-variable factors.

    I’d be very interested in JP’s observations about school shootings.

    • #9
  10. Larry Koler Inactive
    Larry Koler
    @LarryKoler

    Jules PA (View Comment):
    I’d be very interested in JP’s observations about school shootings.

    Yes, I would, too.

    My wife has been out of town lately and returned and wanted to catch up on all the Jordan Peterson stuff she had been hearing about and so we binged last night. Started with the Kathy Newman foolishness, then the Mark Steyn interview and a couple more Canadian ones since she’s Canadian and knows a lot about University of Toronto and Canadian politics.

    I think tonight we will watch the Peterson interview of Camille Paglia.

    He’s really got me thinking about things that are seriously wrong in the country and in the western democracies in general.

    • #10
  11. Larry Koler Inactive
    Larry Koler
    @LarryKoler

    drlorentz (View Comment):

    Henry Racette (View Comment):
    There aren’t many school shootings. That creates a “small N” problem, and it will be hard to correlate social factors — any factors, really — with the mass shooters that grab our attention.

    This is definitely a concern. Before getting into the issue any deeper, I’d like to see the per capita number of school shootings over the years. It’s not clear to me whether this number has increased or whether there’s more reporting of these events. Every local incident is now national news; this was not always so. It may well be that the number of events divided by population has remained constant, in which case there’s nothing to explain.

    Yes, this is critical to the whole discussion, isn’t it? Is it more of a fake news thing or is it a real phenomenon. I tend to think that we are seeing more of this per capita and I think we should expect it when we think about how horrible some boy’s lives are nowadays. Objectively, things might actually be better overall but compared to their peers how left out do boys feel now?

    • #11
  12. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    So I have a question, which is based on a theory I have but I don’t have the data to know if it is even a theory worth exploring. But allow me to put it out there with all those caveats hanging around it, because I find you comment about anger interesting.

    Is it possible that todays society is not more violent than the past but experiences a different distribution of violence. Is it possible that in past violence was more prevalent but less intense. For example more boys got into fights, even serious ones back in the 50 and 60s than they do today. That society was more tolerant or less interested in stopping this low level violence. Today we are overly punctilious in stopping such actions, thus the violence builds up (if it can do that) without an outlet. For some this build to a breaking point and they go on a deadly rampage. Thus the over all effect would be to have less violence over all, but a higher incident of extreme violence. Which would match the pattern we see. I though don’t know if in the past casual levels of violence were greater among school children. The problem is that the violence I’m talking about would probably not have been kept track of officially.

    So what do you all think of this theory poorly researched as it is.

    • #12
  13. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    Valiuth (View Comment):
    So I have a question, which is based on a theory I have but I don’t have the data to know if it is even a theory worth exploring. But allow me to put it out there with all those caveats hanging around it, because I find you comment about anger interesting.

    Is it possible that todays society is not more violent than the past but experiences a different distribution of violence. Is it possible that in past violence was more prevalent but less intense. For example more boys got into fights, even serious ones back in the 50 and 60s than they do today. That society was more tolerant or less interested in stopping this low level violence. Today we are overly punctilious in stopping such actions, thus the violence builds up (if it can do that) without an outlet. For some this build to a breaking point and they go on a deadly rampage. Thus the over all effect would be to have less violence over all, but a higher incident of extreme violence. Which would match the pattern we see. I though don’t know if in the past casual levels of violence were greater among school children. The problem is that the violence I’m talking about would probably not have been kept track of officially.

    So what do you all think of this theory poorly researched as it is.

    I think you have a point. I have British friends that have said that the US was much less violent than they expected, because the kinds of bloody dust-ups you’d see on a High Street Saturday night are rarer in America. But they have far fewer murders in the UK, with or without guns.

    Hollywood plays a role too, but it’s not the SJW Hollywood that Ricochet loves to hate. No, it’s the Transformers-meets-Watchmen-times-Avengers sense that the unjustly treated should aspire to become powerful, but evil. The evil has to be a mass spectacle, and the name of the villain will live forever, if only in infamy. I’ve watched a lot of movies with this basic premise.

    This Florida kid wasn’t some tragic victim of twisted fate, like the Left’s usual scapegoats. He didn’t suffer from identity confusion or the lack of masculinization, the Right’s usual soapbox. He was and is a scumbag.

    • #13
  14. drlorentz Member
    drlorentz
    @drlorentz

    Number of school shootings per year in each decade. This includes non-fatal incidents. I selected number of incidents because it’s a measure of how many wackos are willing to make the attempt, not how effective they were. In the graph, each data point corresponds to the number of school shootings per year per million in population in the decade beginning in that year. For example, the point for 1960 is the average number per year in the decade 1960-1969. The last data point is normalized to the approximately 7.1 years of decade so far. The Florida shooting is included.

    There was a steady rise throughout the latter half of the 20th century but a sharp increase in the current decade that would be hard to explain by the hypothesis of the OP.

    Wikipedia is the source for shooting numbers. I have not validated the data but I expect it’s accurate. If anyone wants to check the data for accuracy, have at it.

    • #14
  15. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    Valiuth (View Comment):
    So I have a question, which is based on a theory I have but I don’t have the data to know if it is even a theory worth exploring. But allow me to put it out there with all those caveats hanging around it, because I find you comment about anger interesting.

    Is it possible that todays society is not more violent than the past but experiences a different distribution of violence. Is it possible that in past violence was more prevalent but less intense. For example more boys got into fights, even serious ones back in the 50 and 60s than they do today. That society was more tolerant or less interested in stopping this low level violence. Today we are overly punctilious in stopping such actions, thus the violence builds up (if it can do that) without an outlet. For some this build to a breaking point and they go on a deadly rampage. Thus the over all effect would be to have less violence over all, but a higher incident of extreme violence. Which would match the pattern we see. I though don’t know if in the past casual levels of violence were greater among school children. The problem is that the violence I’m talking about would probably not have been kept track of officially.

    So what do you all think of this theory poorly researched as it is.

    Bullying as a pressure-release valve for the psychotic? Interesting.

    • #15
  16. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    drlorentz (View Comment):

    Very interesting. Looks like we just need a good world war to kill off the youth and get the numbers down.

    • #16
  17. Larry Koler Inactive
    Larry Koler
    @LarryKoler

    drlorentz (View Comment):
    Number of school shootings per year in each decade. This includes non-fatal incidents. I selected number of incidents because it’s a measure of how many wackos are willing to make the attempt, not how effective they were. In the graph, each data point corresponds to the number of school shootings per year per million in population in the decade beginning in that year. For example, the point for 1960 is the average number per year in the decade 1960-1969. The last data point is normalized to the approximately 7.1 years of decade so far. The Florida shooting is included.

    There was a steady rise throughout the latter half of the 20th century but a sharp increase in the current decade that would be hard to explain by the hypothesis of the OP.

    Wikipedia is the source for shooting numbers. I have not validated the data but I expect it’s accurate. If anyone wants to check the data for accuracy, have at it.

    Very interesting — that means the people born in 1990 thru 2000 (I think) are under more stress according to my way of thinking and they are acting out more than previous decades. (I’m thinking that most of the shooters are between 15 and 25.)

    • #17
  18. Larry Koler Inactive
    Larry Koler
    @LarryKoler

    That corresponds to the end of the Cold War rather nicely. And with the Clinton Presidency and with Newt’s flipping the south into a Republican bastion overnight.

    Here’s a thought: I remember that when Clinton was elected in 1992 that many pundits said that with his left/liberal background and dodging the draft and smoking weed that during the Cold War the people wanted a solid character to have control of the nuclear button. And that now that that threat was gone that we could afford to have a gadfly like Clinton.

    From 1995 on, the left has had absolute power of the Dems and the media because they no longer had to make excuses for the conservative southern Democrats. I remember thinking myself that now that the left is unopposed within the party (they were always a majority there but a minority in the country) that they would have to get serious because we could all seem them as they truly are. Instead, the media moved sharply left (and gave up on any pretense at fairness) and has made up for the lack of the southern electorate in that faction. I think this is why they are really the hand inside the glove of the left rather than the Democratic Party being in control. Many of us now believe that the Dems are the puppets of the media.

    Well, just some thoughts on what was going on during and since that era — FWIW.

    • #18
  19. Bob W Member
    Bob W
    @WBob

    The common denominator in all these shootings is the perp being on psychiatric medication. These shootings almost never occured before the introduction of the SSRI antidepressant a generation or so ago, but other medications play a role too, such as benzodiazepines. Every one of these shooters was on them, from Charles Whitman to Steven Paddock. The other factors you mention, such as single parent households obviously are important because they make it more likely that kids will be on these meds. I will be very surprised if this guy Cruz was not on them, as it has been reported he may have been.

    These meds carry specific warnings about suicide risk especially for young people. Whatever the drug does to make someone want to kill themselves obviously is a risk factor for homicide. For benzo anxiety medicine, the cause of this risk is the reduction or elimination of inhibiting fear. It reduces your anxiety, which means it reduces your fear.  If you already want to harm yourself or others, this isn’t good. I took a benzo for anxiety along time ago, and experienced this unnatural fearlessness myself. I was never suicidal, but when I was on it I often felt like I wouldn’t have batted an eye if someone walked up and put a gun to my head. The medicine also backfired on me and caused depression, so it was kind of a melancholic fearlessness.    It was really disturbing, and I can only imagine how someone who has actual suicidal or homicdal tendencies would respond if they experienced it.

    It’s extememly frustrating, having experienced the effects of this type of medication myself, to see it mostly ignored in the discussion about how to deal with these shootings. If you have personally experienced the negative effects of these meds, then when you learn that all the shooters were on them, you know for sure that they play a central role in these shootings. And yet it’s never even acknowledged.

    • #19
  20. drlorentz Member
    drlorentz
    @drlorentz

    Larry Koler (View Comment):
    Very interesting — that means the people born in 1990 thru 2000 (I think) are under more stress according to my way of thinking and they are acting out more than previous decades. (I’m thinking that most of the shooters are between 15 and 25.)

    Possibly. An alternative hypothesis is that the intense media coverage of school shootings has given people ideas… very bad ideas, and that social media have contributed to this. Facebook and Twitter are phenomena principally belonging to the current decade.

    • #20
  21. Henry Racette Member
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    Basil Fawlty (View Comment):

    Valiuth (View Comment):
    So I have a question, which is based on a theory I have but I don’t have the data to know if it is even a theory worth exploring. But allow me to put it out there with all those caveats hanging around it, because I find you comment about anger interesting.

    Is it possible that todays society is not more violent than the past but experiences a different distribution of violence. Is it possible that in past violence was more prevalent but less intense. For example more boys got into fights, even serious ones back in the 50 and 60s than they do today. That society was more tolerant or less interested in stopping this low level violence. Today we are overly punctilious in stopping such actions, thus the violence builds up (if it can do that) without an outlet. For some this build to a breaking point and they go on a deadly rampage. Thus the over all effect would be to have less violence over all, but a higher incident of extreme violence. Which would match the pattern we see. I though don’t know if in the past casual levels of violence were greater among school children. The problem is that the violence I’m talking about would probably not have been kept track of officially.

    So what do you all think of this theory poorly researched as it is.

    Bullying as a pressure-release valve for the psychotic? Interesting.

    This is in line with thoughts recently expressed (though I forget where) about the unintended consequences of so-called “helicopter parenting,” the hyper-attentive, prevent-discord-at-all-costs style of child supervision that seems prevalent now. The argument goes that little humans (which is what I’ll charitably call children) develop the coping skills that real humans require by experiencing conflict on a child’s level: taunts, a bit of bullying, the occasional tussle, and cliques, etc. They learn from these interactions such valuable skills as deciding when to engage, when to disengage, when to escalate, how to forgive, how to accept forgiveness, and the crucial distinction between things that hurt you and things that hurt your feelings — all the skills that healthy adult humans require.

    Absent opportunities for unsupervised, occasionally tendentious interactions, kids have no forum in which to experiment, suffer minor setbacks, and develop new skills. And so they grow up to be angry intolerant hyper-sensitive brats, like the kids at Oberlin or U.C. Berkeley or Middlebury.

    • #21
  22. Larry Koler Inactive
    Larry Koler
    @LarryKoler

    Bob W (View Comment):
    The common denominator in all these shootings is the perp being on psychiatric medication. These shootings almost never occured before the introduction of the SSRI antidepressant a generation or so ago, but other medications play a role too, such as benzodiazepines. Every one of these shooters was on them, from Charles Whitman to Steven Paddock. The other factors you mention, such as single parent households obviously are important because they make it more likely that kids will be these meds.

    These meds carry specific warnings about suicide risk especially for young people. Whatever the drug does to make someone want to kill themselves obviously is a risk factor for homicide. For benzo anxiety medicine, the cause of this risk is the reduction or elimination of inhibiting fear. It reduces your anxiety, which means it reduces your fear. If you already want to harm yourself or others, this isn’t good. I took a benzo for anxiety along time ago, and experienced this unnatural fearlessness myself. I was never suicidal, but when I was on it I often felt like I wouldn’t have batted an eye if someone walked up and put a gun to my head. The medicine also backfired on me and caused depression, so it was kind of a melancholic fearlessness. It was really disturbing, and I can only imagine how someone who has actual suicidal or homicdal tendencies would respond if they experienced it.

    It’s extememly frustrating, having experienced the effects of this type of medication myself, to see it mostly ignored in the discussion about how to deal with these shootings. If you have personally experienced the negative effects of these meds, then when you learn that all the shooters were on them, you know for sure that they play a central role in these shootings. And yet it’s never even acknowledged.

    Yes, of course, good point. I suspected this at earlier debates on this subject but only managed this time to mention ADHD peripherally. Thanks for this — it’s probably the most important thing to look at. Especially, if you are right as to how many of these shooters were on them or had a history of being on them. Was it all or most of them? Wow!

    • #22
  23. Larry Koler Inactive
    Larry Koler
    @LarryKoler

    My comment #1 is what I put down as lower priority on this calculation but you make me realize it should be the top issue to look at.

    My grandson was on them and he’s had long term issues because of them. I fought with my daughter to keep him off of them and she assured me that he would only get them if it was absolutely necessary. With women teachers’ inability to control classrooms the pressure is really on the moms to drug our boys nowadays.

    B-O-Y, Huckleberry Finn, Tom Sawyer, things like that.

    • #23
  24. drlorentz Member
    drlorentz
    @drlorentz

    Several plausible theories have been floated. Maybe more than one cause is operating to cause the trend. They all sound about equally reasonable to me, which just shows how hard it will be to infer the cause(s) from the data. It’s not like we can do a controlled experiment where we only change one thing at a time.

    So far, the drug explanation sounds best to me. I wonder if there’s a way to isolate the other potential causes. If all the shooters are on these medications, it would be strong evidence.

    Bob W (View Comment):
    when you learn that all the shooters were on them, you know for sure that they play a central role in these shootings.

     

    • #24
  25. Larry Koler Inactive
    Larry Koler
    @LarryKoler

    drlorentz (View Comment):
    Several plausible theories have been floated. Maybe more than one cause is operating to cause the trend. They all sound about equally reasonable to me, which just shows how hard it will be to infer the cause(s) from the data. It’s not like we can do a controlled experiment where we only change one thing at a time.

    So far, the drug explanation sounds best to me. I wonder if there’s a way to isolate the other potential causes. If all the shooters are on these medications, it would be strong evidence.

    Bob W (View Comment):
    when you learn that all the shooters were on them, you know for sure that they play a central role in these shootings.

    When did these drugs come into common usage and when did the schools get involved with promoting them?

    • #25
  26. Henry Racette Member
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    drlorentz (View Comment):
    Several plausible theories have been floated.

    Agreed. Another that I think deserves more attention is the role of first-person shooting games. In his book On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society, author Dave Grossman goes on at some length about the natural mammalian reluctance to kill others of our own species, and about how the U.S. military (and others) learned to systematically break down those barriers. Spoiler: the first-person shooter video game closely emulates the techniques used to increase willingness-to-kill from about 20% of the armed forces to 95%. (Some challenges have been made to the historical statistics in the book, but, even if valid, they’re matters of degree and don’t affect the substance of his argument.)

    I think we’re raising a generation that includes a great many young men who have had the instinctive reluctance to kill essentially trained out of them.

     

    • #26
  27. Henry Racette Member
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    Larry Koler (View Comment):

    drlorentz (View Comment):
    Several plausible theories have been floated. Maybe more than one cause is operating to cause the trend. They all sound about equally reasonable to me, which just shows how hard it will be to infer the cause(s) from the data. It’s not like we can do a controlled experiment where we only change one thing at a time.

    So far, the drug explanation sounds best to me. I wonder if there’s a way to isolate the other potential causes. If all the shooters are on these medications, it would be strong evidence.

    Bob W (View Comment):
    when you learn that all the shooters were on them, you know for sure that they play a central role in these shootings.

    When did these drugs come into common usage and when did the schools get involved with promoting them?

    Living with Prozac came out in 1995, and the SSRIs were just beginning to make a splash then. So they’ve been popular for 20 years, and probably in schools for most of that (and certainly among the teachers).

    • #27
  28. Bob W Member
    Bob W
    @WBob

    Larry Koler (View Comment):

    Bob W (View Comment):
    The common denominator in all these shootings is the perp being on psychiatric medication. These shootings almost never occured before the introduction of the SSRI antidepressant a generation or so ago, but other medications play a role too, such as benzodiazepines. Every one of these shooters was on them, from Charles Whitman to Steven Paddock. The other factors you mention, such as single parent households obviously are important because they make it more likely that kids will be these meds.

    These meds carry specific warnings about suicide risk especially for young people. Whatever the drug does to make someone want to kill themselves obviously is a risk factor for homicide. For benzo anxiety medicine, the cause of this risk is the reduction or elimination of inhibiting fear. It reduces your anxiety, which means it reduces your fear. If you already want to harm yourself or others, this isn’t good. I took a benzo for anxiety along time ago, and experienced this unnatural fearlessness myself. I was never suicidal, but when I was on it I often felt like I wouldn’t have batted an eye if someone walked up and put a gun to my head. The medicine also backfired on me and caused depression, so it was kind of a melancholic fearlessness. It was really disturbing, and I can only imagine how someone who has actual suicidal or homicdal tendencies would respond if they experienced it.

    It’s extememly frustrating, having experienced the effects of this type of medication myself, to see it mostly ignored in the discussion about how to deal with these shootings. If you have personally experienced the negative effects of these meds, then when you learn that all the shooters were on them, you know for sure that they play a central role in these shootings. And yet it’s never even acknowledged.

    Yes, of course, good point. I suspected this at earlier debates on this subject but only managed this time to mention ADHD peripherally. Thanks for this — it’s probably the most important thing to look at. Especially, if you are right as to how many of these shooters were on them or had a history of being on them. Was it all or most of them? Wow!

    I have researched the question, and can’t totally prove for certain that every single shooter of this type was on these meds. Most of them were (Whitman and Paddock were on Valium for instance. Columbine shooter Eric Harris was on Luvox. The German wings pilot was on a lorazepam. The Va. Tech shooter was receiving outpatient mental health treatment and likley was. Adam Lanza was being treated and likely was but couldn’t be confirmed. Etc. Etc.). The conclusion that’s most likely is that no one does this kind of thing unless they are a terrorist or on drugs, and the fact pattern seems to support that conclusion.

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  29. Bob W Member
    Bob W
    @WBob

    Larry Koler (View Comment):

    drlorentz (View Comment):
    Several plausible theories have been floated. Maybe more than one cause is operating to cause the trend. They all sound about equally reasonable to me, which just shows how hard it will be to infer the cause(s) from the data. It’s not like we can do a controlled experiment where we only change one thing at a time.

    So far, the drug explanation sounds best to me. I wonder if there’s a way to isolate the other potential causes. If all the shooters are on these medications, it would be strong evidence.

    Bob W (View Comment):
    when you learn that all the shooters were on them, you know for sure that they play a central role in these shootings.

    When did these drugs come into common usage and when did the schools get involved with promoting them?

    SSRIs about 25-30 years ago. Benzos have been around a lot longer. Texas tower shooter Charles Whitman was on the benzo Valium. I don’t know exactly when schools got involved.

    • #29
  30. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    I just read that the kid was on the autism spectrum. He was adopted (with his brother) and his adoptive father died 10 years ago(?), which is why he was being raised by a single mother. She died of flu complications on Nov 1 last year at age 68. He was living with family friends who were encouraging him to work and pursue adult ed and had asked him to keep his weaponry in their gun safe.  No word about pharma use.

    Sounds pretty tragic all around.

    One thing I know for sure — more laws will not eliminate acts of evil.

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