The shooting in Santa Clarita, California, rocked the town after a 16-year-old shot five students, including himself, killing two students and the shooter succumbing to his injuries. Many are asking why, was he mentally ill? According to a press conference, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Padilla, he presumed the student was mentally ill, though no evidence proved this. Once again, a murderer is assumed to be mentally ill.
There are assumptions made when a person commits a mass shooting that they are mentally ill, but, according to the Secret Service
[A]round half of mass attacks in 2017 and 2018 appeared to be motivated by grievances, or perceived wrongs, related to home, work or another personal sphere. Grievances were more commonly cited than any other motive, including mental illness — which the agency said was a motivating factor in 14% of incidents in 2017 and 19% in 2018. Other motivating factors included ideology, such as white supremacy and anti-Semitism, and an attempt to achieve fame.
So when someone shoots up a place of worship, school, a park, or even a gathering, more times than not, the culprit is more likely motivated by hate than being ill when the media shows people running out of a theater or off-campus or yes, a post office. Also, after the attack on 9/11, the 19 hijackers were terrorists and not depressed. One has to ask when a person flies a plane into a building, is that terrorism or is the person crazy? If a white male were to shoot up a Black congregation, is that person a terrorist or mentally ill?
Our President said that it’s the ill who kill and not the gun. If that’s the case, why the cut in social services? Why does Congress, who ask for thought and prayers after a massacre, refuse to raise taxes to pay for mental health services? Why must we, who do suffer, be grouped with those who are either religious extremists or a proponent of hate? Because mental health isn’t imperative.
If I were to write on Facebook that I will (blank) the President, the secret service, and every law enforcement agency would be knocking on my door. No one would have to report me as the social media software will find the keywords and point to the I.P. address where I am, and the authorities will visit me. Even if I were to write a threat on a blog that no one has access to, that too could be discovered.
But, consider the situation where someone is considering suicide and writes about it online. The expectation is for the writer to seek help, or if the person is on Facebook, Twitter, etc., then a friend could contact the person, or even 911 to prevent someone from harming themselves. The technology
is there; these same social media groups have written software to detect certain words associated with terrorism so that they can be red-flagged. If this were done for suicide, then social media organizations would step in, create an algorithm to find keywords associated with suicide, and report their findings to the proper law enforcement agencies. The appropriate agency can visit the writer and possibly stop a bad situation from getting worse, and maybe save a person’s life.
When someone is depressed and is willing to harm themselves, a therapist, or even a family member can call for help. Still, if their pain is silent, then there could be a social media safety feature that could prevent a suicide. Social media software, with technology which can read words at the speed of light, might be the only entity to prevent a suicide.