Are suicide terrorists really so different from rampage, workplace and school shooters?

A comparative analysis of suicide terrorists and rampage, workplace, and school shooters in the United States from 1990 to 2010

From Homicide Studies

There is a long history of terrorists, rampage shooters, workplace shooters, and school shooters carrying out acts of murder-suicide against unarmed civilians.This study offers the first combined quantitative assessment of suicide terrorists and rampage, workplace, and school shooters who attempt suicide, to investigate where there are statistically significant differences and where they appear almost identical. Suicide terrorists have usually been assumed to be fundamentally different from rampage, workplace, and school shooters Many scholars have claimed that suicide terrorists are motivated purely by ideology, not personal problems, and that they are not even suicidal. This study’s focus was on attacks and attackers in the United States from 1990 to 2010 and concluded that the differences between these offenders were largely superficial. Prior to their attacks, they struggled with many of the same personal problems, including social marginalization, family problems, work or school problems, and precipitating crisis events. Ultimately, patterns among all four types of offenders can assist those developing security policy, conducting threat assessments, and attempting to intervene in the lives of at-risk individuals. Given the stakes, this should quickly become a top priority, so that the many social costs of these horrific attacks can finally be reduced.

Abstract

This study presents results from the first combined quantitative assessment and comparative analysis of suicide terrorists and rampage, workplace, and school shooters who attempt suicide. Findings suggest that in the United States from 1990 to 2010, the differences between these offenders (N = 81) were largely superficial. Prior to their attacks, they struggled with many of the same personal problems, including social marginalization, family problems, work or school problems, and precipitating crisis events. Ultimately, patterns among all four types of offenders can assist those developing security policy, conducting threat assessments, and attempting to intervene in the lives of at-risk individuals.

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Article details
Lankford, A. (2012). A Comparative Analysis of Suicide Terrorists and Rampage, Workplace, and School Shooters in the United States From 1990 to 2010 Homicide Studies DOI: 10.1177/1088767912462033

     
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