The Elephant in SILENTIS

So why did I write a story about a kid who contemplates carrying out a rage shooting before turning the gun on himself? The easy answer is: because the idea came to me. But it’s more than that and ‘easy’ became delicate subject matter that required more thought and lots of research. The type of research I began with was reading available manifestos and journals of rage shooters. I won’t lie or sugarcoat it, this was not an easy endeavor. Then I read several articles written by juvenile psychiatrists about high school shooters, as well as adult psychiatrists and other experts on rage/rampage shooters. Still difficult, but at least there was some insight into the ‘why’ of it.

If these kids, young adults, and adults had better access to reliable and trustworthy resources, then maybe some of these tragedies could have been avoided. So often there are warning signs, but just as often they go ignored, or dismissed because no one wants to think their friend, coworker, child, or other relative is capable of such violent acts.

The truth is that every rampage shooter was indeed capable—and more often than not, there was indeed a friend, relative, or coworker who noticed the signs but failed by not taking them seriously.

Trust is key here. We all need to take good look at ourselves and trust our intuition—trust in what we know is right, wrong, and what hints at being vaguely in-between. There is no way to know conclusively in advance, but hindsight is too late. Foresight and necessary bravery are what we need to trust in. It really is better to be safe than sorry when lives depend on it.

If you suspect that someone you know is exhibiting attack-related behavior or patterns, alert someone else. It can be the police, a parent or other relative, a school administrator, an anonymous tip via phone or other media, or even to just another friend you know to be objective. If it turns out you were wrong, no worries. If it turns out you were right, then you saved a life—if not several. That makes you a hero, one who dared to question uncertainty and to shine a flashlight on it.

We need more heroes who carry flashlights.

For more information identifying the warning signs, please visit the website of Peter Langman, Ph.D.