Triggered Day 4: More Than Mental Illness

Discover the Many Factors That Contributed to Shootings

Noah Torr and Jessica Mick

Deana Trautz, Reporter

Hearing about the recent shootings, such as the one in Parkland, Florida can be heart-wrenching to many. As more shootings fill the headlines over time, people can go numb to the horror of it all.

With such a collection of data from these events over the past few decades, there is an opportunity to understand the shooters’ motives now, more than ever before.

Politicians and the American people are quick to put the blame on mental health after a shooting, however, there are many factors that go into each violent incident. All the perpetrators were different, from where they grew up, to the quality of their home life.

But differences aside, there are clear similarities. These similarities can help spread awareness and teach what is worth looking out for, in order to prevent these events from occurring in the future.

Descriptions of perpetrators from some of the most well-known shootings can be read in the slideshow below. Know that these descriptions should serve as a guide towards understanding potential shooters, and are not here to glorify them in any way.

There are many similarities between the perpetrators, which can help in identifying potential threats in daily life. Below is a breakdown of the recurring traits.

Mental illness/ health/ personal detail

-Depression, anorexia, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, aggression, psychopathy, pedophilia, severe headaches (tumor), labeled as mute during childhood or as the shy kid, autism, other special education needs

Knowledge of guns

-Military affiliation, taught gun handling as a child, obsession with mass shooting fan sites, collected guns/knives

Hate for the world or the wealthy class, and a possible drive to revolt in some cases

-Thought that the wealthy was selfish, had a hatred towards jocks

Neglect or abuse from parents and other parental details

-Abusive father, lack of medicine accommodation, both parents died

Shows sign of aggression or plan

-Breaks into van, sent suicidal message, consulted qualified therapist, posted opinions/projects on public online blog, wrote about concerning essay topics or drew gory images, made video for school project featuring gun violence toward other students, openly spoke about a complex plan to kill, posted on Youtube about desires to kill, posted concerning/aggressive content on social media, openly supported Hitler and Nazism, multiple FBI reports claiming a potential danger, joked about mass shooting 

Between these similarities, the most significant point is that each of them displayed warning signs. A parent of one of the Columbine shooters, Sue Klebold, spoke to The Guardian, saying that “I could see his behaviours were changing. I attributed it to being an adolescent, and it is my deep regret that those behaviours might have indicated something else.” Sometimes the signs aren’t obvious to family members or teachers, but they could be noticed by their peers.

“See Something, Say Something” is a campaign by the Department of Homeland Security, which was created to encourage people to report suspicious activity. This campaign applies to all schools, in that students should look out for and report when something isn’t right.

Lead counselor, Christina Hollander, says in a CPHS News interview with Noah Torr that student input is of great value to the administration. 

You’re not tattling, you’re helping. You are sometimes saving a life. 

— Christina Hollander

“Things are going on around us everyday and it’s hard to pay attention to everything, but when you do notice something, it is important to speak out,” Hollander said. “You’re not tattling, you’re helping. You are sometimes saving a life.”  

Students spend class time with their peers and scroll through each other’s social media feeds, giving them a better eye for potential issues. Whether it is an aggressive Instagram post or a rumor that someone has a plan to bring a gun to school, it must be reported. Tell a teacher, email an AP or counselor, send an anonymous alert. Regardless of the channel in which it is reported, all that matters is someone is made aware.

“[Spend] less time with your face in your phone and walking around the hallways, and [more time] looking at people and making eye contact and having conversations at lunch so you can really get to know the students around you,” Hollander said.

To submit an anonymous alert, click here.

Knowing When to Get Help Handout via BraveryTips,

Suicide Prevention Handout for Teens via Bluebonnet Trails

For contact information on the counselors, refer down below, or click here.

Christina Hollander, Lead Counselor, Last names A-Bp


[email protected]

Jacque Pittz, Last names Br-Fl


[email protected]

James Sullivan, Last names Fo-J


[email protected]

Kelli Taylor, Last names K-Mi


[email protected]

Lisa Semper, Last names Mo-Sc


[email protected]

Thomas Kahlich, Last names Se-Z


[email protected]