Is Mental Illness Causing Mass Shootings?


Ely Ponti, Reporter

Two mass shootings have occurred in the United States that were only eight days apart.

On May 16th in Buffalo, New York a shooting occurred at a supermarket with 13 people shot and killing 10.  According to the New York Post, the 18 year 0ld gunman, Payton Gendron, shared his plan online before the deadly shooting happened and formed a group of people on private chats that shared the same racist values he did.  After months of COVID-19 online school,  Gendron’s return to in-person learning his peers noticed odd behavior and rebellious signs according to a report by Fox 7 Austin. There is no direct correlation of mental illness for the Buffalo shooter, but he has shared posts on social media about decapitating his cat.

Another mass shooting occurred a week later on May 24th in Uvalde, Texas  at Robb Elementary School. 18 year old Salvador Ramos  shot his grandmother in the face and took off to kill 19 children and two teachers at the local elementary school. It’s reported that Ramo’s parents had been split since he was a child,  and that both have past criminal records of aggravated assault and trying to write a fake check. Years prior to the shooting, both of his parents have spent time serving in jail for many misdemeanors and running into the law.

“It is a tragic event that shows once again why we need to address the problems in our country that are allowing these events to occur,” said senior Alexis Anderson. “These are not just gun laws, but a lack of solving the cause of the shootings which is the individuals committing them.”

As individuals, the responsibilities we have to others and ourselves in times of crisis and in everyday life is to make sure you and the people around you feel safe and treated equally. To do this, individuals have to advocate and become secure in themself before putting that onto other people.

As an individual you have to become self aware and become comfortable with yourself before putting any responsibility on others around you. To be psychologically and emotionally stable is an important responsibility to have for yourself because it will help advocate for yourself and other people around you when in crisis. If fear and instability are always present, no one will feel safe in any situation because there is no stability and trust at hand. 

Something can be done to prevent mass shootings.

The media says to ban guns, but as a constitutional right, American citizens have the right to bear arms in need of protection.

With shootings  happening  everyday in America, it is clear that citizens have abused their right by taking that freedom to kill and hurt others, when it should be used for the greater good of our safety.

Looking at statistics, 214 shootings have occurred in 2022 alone. The Austin American Statesman reports that the average age of mass shooters is between 18 and 19 years old, the same ages of the shooters in Buffalo and Uvalde.

It’s important to look at all aspects of these mass shootings. We all know shootings have a gun involved, but who is the person pulling the trigger? So what is the root cause of Generation Z and young adults to act and behave in this recurring behavior?

A root cause could be how and where did they grow up, were they raised in a broken home, any negative influences from the media? 

When mass shootings occur it is important to look at the individuals who are causing these deaths. People involved have past criminal history in their family, young adults growing up in broken and unstable household environments, and how social media is present everywhere. There’s access on our phones, laptops, watches, TV, anywhere. The National Library Of Medicine cites multiple studies that prove that social media has more of a negative connotation towards people’s mental health and frequent social media users report greater symptoms of psychopathology. With COVID-19, many young adults have been alone in their houses with minimal interaction with others their age causing depression, anxiety, loneliness, and suicide.

Our generation has increasing rates of mental illness, and the issue may not be the weapons involved, but what’s going on in the people’s head who are using them.