On Friday, February 17, 2023, a 52-year-old male went on a shooting spree in Arkabutla, Mississippi, a small town roughly 40 miles south of Memphis, Tennessee. In total, the mass shooter left carnage at three separate locations—the home of his former wife, the parking lot of a convenience store, and the grounds of the suspect’s residence.
Among those killed were the suspect’s ex-wife, his stepfather (who lived in the house directly behind the suspect), his stepfather’s sister, two handymen who were working on the suspect’s property, and a man sitting in the driver’s seat of a pickup truck at a local gas station and convenience store.
Another man in the pickup truck, that victim’s brother, was chased into the woods by the suspect but was able to escape. It is unclear whether the suspect knew these two men as he knew the others. The person injured in this mass shooting spree was the current husband of the suspect’s ex, who was hurt while trying to protect his wife.
Is Mental Illness to Blame?
Those who knew the suspect reported that he had a history of mental illness. Some even suggested that it was the suspect’s mental health that was to blame for this deadly rampage. What do the experts say?
An article published by Columbia University’s Department of Psychiatry indicates that mental illness plays a small role in mass shooting incidents. According to an associate professor of clinical psychiatry at the school, Dr. Ragy Girgis, MD, only 5% of mass shooting incidents involve a suspect with severe mental illness.
Dr. Joel Dvoskin, PhD, a licensed clinical psychologist and assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, agrees. In an interview with the American Psychological Association, Dr. Dvoskin asserts that mental illness in these situations is often emphasized by the media, causing people to overgeneralize. This leads to messages—such as that mental illness is to blame for mass shootings—to be “very inaccurate and, in fact, counterproductive and harmful,” says Dr. Dvoskin.
Mass Shootings Involve a Complex Array of Factors
Research published in the Harvard Review of Psychiatry suggests that, instead of being a mental illness issue, mass shooting incidents are often a culmination of numerous factors. Among them are the suspect’s race and sex, their socioeconomic status, their relationships and attitudes, and how connected or disconnected they are from the shooting location.
In A.L.I.V.E.’s Active Shooter Survival Training, we discuss several of the factors that contribute to active shooter incidents. In addition to providing training in numerous locations across the U.S., Mexico, Canada, and Australia, our Active Shooter Survival Training courses are also available online.
Sign up and learn what’s behind most mass shooting incidents. More importantly, you’ll also learn the steps that can help you survive an active shooting event.Sources: NBC News, WREG News 3, AP News, Action News 5