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Teacher Retirements
June 3, 2024

The mind of terrorism


Mental illness could be a leading cause to the huge shooting epidemic in America


After every calamity, Google places a different colored ribbon in honor of the victims and families; at this pace, we’re going to run out of colors. Shootings happen on a regular basis in America, to the point where it’s the norm to see on the news. There has been an astonishing 351 mass shootings in 2015, according to The fear of why these terrorists do what they do is such an alien concept to us: how can someone put a gun to a first grader’s head?  The shooter could be affected from anything and everything: mental illness, their community, witnessing violence, or even things like race or sexuality.

A prime example of the mental illness factor is Adam Lanza, the Sandy Hook Elementary shooter. Lanza took a semi-automatic AR-15 assault rifle and killed 26 people, 20 children and six adults.  Soon after the shooting, Lanza was diagnosed with Schizophrenia. He also was diagnosed with Asperger’s as a young child, along with autism spectrum disorder, anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder.

Lanza has always been preoccupied with mass murder In fifth grade. Lanza and a classmate turned in an explicit creative writing project called “The Big Book of Granny” which featured graphic story of cannibalism, murdering children and taxidermy. One of his teachers said, “If that boy would’ve burned himself, he would not have known it or felt it physically.” According to Psychology Today. Listening to the chilling 911 calls, we can tell that Lanza was not afraid to hurt others, especially children. He was unmerciful towards anyone he faced and he kicked down a glass window at the entrance of the school as staff hurriedly tried to get someone down there fast enough.

Listen to a 911 call here.

Lanza shot into this window in at the beginning of the incident.












Following reports to the school, there were no mental evaluations or even an intervention. Further on in his life, his anxiety and issues with socialization grew worse. In eighth grade he was taken out of school and was evaluated by New Haven-based Yale Child Study Center, who diagnosed him and referred him to regular therapy sessions and multiple medications for anxiety and autism.

Could all these mental issues be the reason for this terrorism? Maybe he had so much pain physically and mentally that it caused him to have a psychological break and turn to mass shootings.

Jonathan M. Metzl from The US National Library of Medicine says that four possible explanations frequently emerge after shootings: “(1) that mental illness causes gun violence, (2) that psychiatric diagnosis can predict gun crime, (3) that shootings represent the deranged acts of mentally ill loners, and (4) that gun control “won’t prevent” another Newtown (Connecticut school mass shooting.)”

Shootings like this are controversial and mental illness is merely a factor. When you see a killer you can only read them externally but we will never know what is going on in their head. If there isn’t a heavier emphasis on making sure mental illnesses are diagnosed and treated then we will have many more Lanza-esque shootings.  There is no change after catastrophes like these and there has been an unbelievable 142 shootings since Newtown (Washington Times).


The reason as to why this keeps occurring is incomprehensible. So many factors come into the predicament that depending on the situation it always changes. Hopefully we will be able to gather some insight on the perpetrators of tragedies such as the San Bernardino shooting in order to figure out what could possibly be going on.


Featured Image credit to: Emma Corripo

Smashed window picture:

Gun crime scene photo:



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