The Catholic Blog

The Perfect Storm Behind the American School Shooter

Posted on 2/19/2018 by Stacy Mal

My thoughts on the real reasons why school shootings are increasing

I haven’t been on social media much at all the last few days, but yesterday morning I got on with my coffee to “catch up” for a couple minutes. Sadly, I was scrolling through post after post about the recent school shooting in Florida. Posts about banning this gun and that gun, updating this law and that law. Posts about walk outs and protests and the responsibility of congress. Posts from good people with compassionate hearts just wanting to see an end to these types of tragedies, so that no one else has to suffer. I get that. I do.

But…. guns aren’t the problem with school shootings – just like planes weren’t the problem with 911, or pressure cookers weren’t the problem with the Boston marathon bombing, or trucks weren’t the problem with the NYC bike path rampage, or baseball bats weren’t the problem with the Auburn hate-crime beating, or canes and metal boxes weren’t the problem with the pizza bomber robbery a few years back. (he used a homemade gun made out of a cane.)

My point is, if you try to ban guns in order to prevent killings, you will likely have to also ban baseball and canes and pressure cookers and trucks. But even then, there’s still going to be killings, if that's all you do is ban the tool used. Because the truth is, guns don’t kill people. People kill people. The statistics prove it. The number of houses with firearms has dramatically dropped over the last 35 years but school shootings have dramatically risen.

The fact is: these tragedies are a people problem. And no, I don’t think it’s just one problem affecting these people. I think they’re the result of a perfect storm… they’re an outcome of many unaddressed issues, a sum of many contributing factors.

I know many people don’t want to hear it, but I’m going to go over them anyway….

First, far more Americans than ever before now take psychiatric medications. The rate of bipolar (manic-depressive) symptoms in teens is about as high now as the rate among adults. Which is heartbreaking. Also, antidepressant use has risen 65% in just 15 years!! 1 in 6 Americans now take psychiatric drugs. 1 in 25 teens take an antidepressant. And studies now estimate that 1 in 5 children ages 13-18 have (or will have) a serious mental illness!!! What does this have to do with mass shootings? Well, if you look at the shooters over the last 20 years, nearly every single one of them was taking (or had recently taken) a psychotropic drug. You can read more on that here:

Now, do these drugs have side effects that can cause someone to go on a killing spree? I don’t know for sure, but I imagine it’s possible. Regardless, the fact that these young people were taking them says to me that we need to give the mental health of adolescents our full attention. We need to quit looking at gun sales (which is dropping every year) and look more at the country’s consistent and dramatic rise of depression and other mental health disorders (especially among young people, who are committing these mass school shootings). We need to ask ourselves, what is causing the rise nowadays?

As a nutritionist, I can tell you most-assuredly that poor diet plays a MAJOR role in many cases of depression. I’ve personally experienced this myself. And I’m not alone. Studies across the globe are confirming that nutrient deficiencies, undiagnosed food allergies/sensitivities, and toxic food chemicals gravely affect our mental health.   There’s more on this topic here:

And no, I’m not naive enough to think that diet is the only thing causing this. Like I said, these kids are suffering from a perfect storm… a conglomerate of things. In addition to food, I think technology is also a contributing factor in the rise of mental health disorders. People with no kids or just young kids, might find this hard to believe. But many parents of teens are cringing. You know exactly where I’m going with this.

First, technology use affects dopamine in the brain which leads to technology addiction. This is bad because multiple studies point blank show that life online causes alienation and feelings of social isolation. And it’s not hard to see why, especially with young people. Kids don’t interact with each other in person anymore. The new forms of intimacy are long text threads and snapchat streaks. They watch other kids have fun together through filtered photos and they feel left out or inadequate. If that wasn’t enough, technology use among troubled and immature adolescents gives way to more cyber-bullying. And according to JAMA Pediatrics cyberbullying and depression go hand in hand.   

Plus, despite the fact that many have thousands of social media followers, studies report that when asked the question, “how many close friends do you have?” the most common answer is “zero.”

Now, am I saying that these mass shootings are caused by just poor food and cell phones? No. It’s still a far more perfect storm. There are more contributing factors.

I think it also has to do with the family unit. Let’s face it: the nuclear family has all but collapsed. More and more boys are growing up without fathers (nearly all mass shooters are male and most are fatherless). To make matters worse, single mothers are not as available either because they are working nonstop and/or are emotionally maxed. The outcome: many children are being raised by technology… again, feeling alienated, inadequate, and sometimes bullied. Many kids are literally “on their own.”

What’s more: these troubled, lonely, depressed kids are on their own, soaking like a sponge in a world of violence. From video games, to music and movies, they are slowly desensitized to it. Add to all this, the anti-life issues they are exposed to every day: rioting, abortion, euthanasia, hate crimes, bullying, sexual harassment/abuse, the general idolatry of rudeness, and the death of religion that promotes purpose. These things are now commonplace on the news and in their community. And now, surprisingly, many kids have zero respect or appreciation for the dignity of human life.

Think about what a perfect (or imperfect) storm this is... kids experience the deterioration of physical, mental and emotional health. They experience the deterioration of their family, their friendships, and their environment. Their world is literally spiraling. And yet, we stand here awe struck that kids are going on rampages in schools. 

I know it’s easier for us to point fingers at some inanimate object, like a gun. It’s easier for us to complain that lawmakers need to do something about gun laws. But the truth is, we ALL have a part to play in this. I'm sorry if that hurts, but it's true. We made this perfect storm by our complacency.

We don’t want to take food and nutrition seriously. We don’t want to admit the smart phone isn’t so "smart" after all. We don’t want to admit we aren’t totally focused on our teens. We don’t want to admit there’s a stigma associated with mental health disorders (even though most of us are affected by them, either directly or indirectly.) We don’t’ want to admit that we have a total crisis of manhood in this country… that by vilifying “traditional values” and true “masculinity,” we have made it easier for deadbeat dads to walk out. And we don’t want to admit that removing God from our country has left us with an unquenchable longing for real, unconditional love.

These are all just my opinions, but I think it’s easier to point fingers at guns because we don’t want to point fingers at ourselves. We don’t want to admit the atmosphere that WE have created is now utterly toxic to our young people... our future leaders. It’s so much easier to wash our hands of responsibility than to admit we might have blood on them. 

Guys, it's time we stand up for values and life at every turn. We have to speak and be active. We have to nurture health of mind, body and soul in our homes, communities and schools. We have to talk to our kids and encourage them to talk to each other. And for goodness sakes, we have to get rid of the stigma associated with mental health issues. We have to talk about it, make counseling more readily available and encouraged. There are so many things we can do collectively on so many levels. Again this is not a gun problem or a law problem. This is one of the biggest "people problems" we've ever faced.

Again, just my opinions, as I scroll through all the nonsense… Still praying daily for an awakening in America.