School Shootings and Mental Illness: A Study of Offender and Incident Characteristics
Design: Cross-sectional content analysis of incident descriptions as reported by sources located on the Internet.
Sample: N~164 school shooting incidents identified from two primary sources
Results: In a pilot study of 50 incidents, the majority of incidents (n=30) produced 1-3 victims. There was no relationship between mental illness measures and the outcome measures of interest. However, a current or former student was more likely to have a motive of retaliation against their peers than any other motive. Further, there was evidence of a “Columbine effect,” in which some shooters had unhealthy obsessions with the Columbine High School shooting in 1999. Preliminary analyses of the full dataset have yielded evidence that fighting was the motive in 18.4% of incidents, possible mental illness was present in 15% of incidents, and intimate partner violence was present in 11.4% of incidents. 53% of incidents took place in high schools, followed by universities/vocational schools at 31%. In 19% of cases, multiple shooters were involved.
Learning Areas:Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Social and behavioral sciences
Identify factors that are associated with school shooting incidents, specifically in relation to indications of mental illness among the shooters.
Keyword(s): Youth Violence, Child/Adolescent Mental Health
Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have a doctorate in criminology and criminal justice, and a master's degree in political science. I am a co-principal investigator on this research. My areas of research have been violence and victimization. I have been the principal or co-principal investigator of several research and program evaluation projects related to child abuse, child sexual abuse, and intimate partner violence. I have no funding to report.
Any relevant financial relationships? No
I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.