In 1999, the world was horrified when two students in Columbine, Colorado went on a killing spree at their high school. It inspired numerous discussions of youth alienation, gun control, and our culture (targeting musicians like Marilyn Manson). It inspired Micheal Moore to make a movie. It even had some schools banning long black jackets, as if THAT would prevent this sort of thing in the future.
What was once horrifying and unique has almost become commonplace today, which is itself horrifying in its own right. What makes people kill others (sometimes their own families) before killing themselves? Are they exacting their last bit of revenge before they go? Are they afraid of going alone? Why are we seeing this more and more lately?
Within the past day, there were two such incidents:Ala. man kills at least 9, including 4 relatives
At least 10 killed in German school shooting
A gunman who left nine bodies scattered across two counties burned down his mother's home with her still inside, killed four relatives on a porch and then targeted strangers before killing himself, authorities said.
Tuesday's shootings in a mostly rural area near the Florida border were believed to be the work of Michael McLendon, who lived with his mother and had once worked at a local metal plant.
The bloodshed began when McLendon burned down his mother's house in Kinston, Coffee County Coroner Robert Preachers said. Authorities found Lisa McLendon's body inside, but they have not determined how she died or whether she was a 10th victim of her son's spree.
McLendon then drove a dozen miles southeast to Samson, in Geneva County, where he took down nine victims, including four members of his family. The rampage ended another 12 miles farther east in Geneva at the metals plant where McLendon had once worked. After a shootout with police, McLendon killed himself.
Investigators declined to comment on a motive for the shootings, in which at least four other people were injured, including a child. The victims' names have not been released.
A gunman opened fire randomly at a high school in southern Germany on Wednesday, killing at least 10 people and injuring others before fleeing the scene, police said.
Germany's n-tv reported that police said the suspect was dressed in a black combat uniform.
Regional police spokesman Klaus Hinderer said students were among the 10 killed, but he had no further details.
The shooter entered Albertville high school in Winnenden at 9:30 a.m. and opened fire, shooting at random, before fleeing, police said.
Police warned area residents not to pick up anyone in their cars as they searched for the suspect, described by Germany's N24 television as a 17-year-old former student who was known to police.
Earlier this year a California man killed his entire family
before killing himself. He left a note saying his lack of a job and job prospects drove his madness to the breaking point.
Of course, we all remember last year, a man, distraught over a divorce and dressed in a Santa suit, killed his family before killing himself
. And even earlier last year was the liberal-hater that shot up a Tennesee church because it embraced liberal causes
. In his case he was also distraught over his job loss.
So what can we learn from all this? We don't know the exact motivations in the Germany shooting, but one can imagine they will be a repeat of the feelings of alienation in the Columbine case. In all of these cases, there is a sense of hopelessness in the mind of the killers, that there is only one way out and that is death. Considering the foreclosures, bad job market, collapsing of Wall Street and investment houses, the combination of desperate and despondent will only get worse.
That said, there are a lot of people suffering these same problems, and most people don't feel the need to take their own lives, much less the lives of friends, family, co-workers, and strangers. Why do some people snap and others do not?
We as a society need to figure this one out and soon, because these incidents seem to be occurring more often.