School shooters usually show these signs of distress long before they open fire: study


Image: AlterNet
Two years before he lined his schoolmates up against a classroom wall and executed them one by one, the student, who would become the gunman, tried to show his English teacher something important.

The Conversation | AlterNet

He had quietly slid up his sleeves to reveal the cut marks running down his arms. The teacher panicked. A novice educator at the time, she had never been coached or trained in what to do in these situations, what to say or how to help. So she passed the student off to another teacher, who then filed a form with the principal’s office. She felt fairly certain nothing else came of it.

“He was asking for help,” the teacher said in reflecting on the encounter during a recent interview. “If I’d had some training to help him, a five-step sheet to follow, say this, say that, maybe I could have made a difference?”

The story is one of dozens that we have collected over the past two years in our effort toward studying the life histories of mass shooters. It typifies what we believe is one of the biggest challenges that schools face when it comes to averting school shootings – and that is recognizing and acting upon warning signs that school shooters almost always give well before they open fire.

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