START-study: common characteristics of assassins and school attackers

A new study by START („National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism“) compares characteristics of assassins (N= 83) and school attackers (N= 41) in the US (summary presentation here: START_LoneActorViolentOffenderComparisonAssassinSchoolAttacker_May2014):

  • „Both assassins and school attackers were predominantly white males, and both groups of offenders were predominantly lone-actors (81% and 70%).
  • Both showed high rates of mental health problems. Nearly half of assassins (44%) and more than half of school attackers (78%) had histories of depression, despair, or suicidal ideation.
  • Otherwise, demographics of the two groups varied significantly. Assassins differed from school attackers in education, marriage, service in the military and history of substance abuse and arrest. Assassins (16-73 yrs.) also tended to be older than school attackers (11-21 yrs.).“

Results may …

  • stress the importance of proper pre-incident-signal-searching;
  • help to achieve a better understanding of the crucial role of media-coverage, after an attack has been carried out possibly to provide a tipping-point for an instable attacker to carry out his plans, ultimately;
  • and call for an integrated critical-response-system that bridges mental health professionals and police in the future.

Find the full article here: 240-1638-1-PB.


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