Nearly all U.S. mass attackers were male and faced major life stressor, report finds
The U.S. Secret Service has released a first-of-its-kind report that analyzes 173 mass attacks that took place in the country from 2016-2020.
It's the first time the agency has put together trends collected from five years of data; the report examines everything from when in the year the attacks took place, to behavioral changes exhibited in the attackers. The report, which comes from the agency's National Threat Assessment Center, looked at attacks that harmed at least three individuals, not including the attacker.
The report comes just days after two shootings in California in Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay killed a total of 18 people. So far in 2023, there have been 39 mass shootings.
Lina Alathari, chief of the National Threat Assessment Center, said she hopes the research and guidance provided in the report can help prevent future mass attacks.
"We must do everything we can to prevent these, which is why we're putting out this research for you. There is no community that is immune from this," Alathari said.
Top data points from the report
Concerning behaviors and mental health symptoms among the attackers
The report says that of the 180 attackers examined in the report, 58% experienced mental health symptoms prior to or at the time of their attack, some of which included depression and suicidal thoughts, and psychotic symptoms such as paranoia and delusions.
The report makes it clear that mental health factors should not be considered causal explanations for why these attacks occurred.
"Mental illness is not a barometer for dangerousness and it is not a correlation for mass attacks. The vast majority of individuals with mental illnesses in this country will never be violent. In fact, often, they are the victims of violence," Alathari said.
The agency says violence like mass attacks are rarely spontaneous and almost always have some warning signs in the attacker. The report doesn't offer any kind of road map to prevent future mass attacks, but the agency recommends that "community systems" be set up to help identify and intervene when someone reports concerns about another person.
With the roll out of the USSS's report, they are also holding a virtual event, and Alathari said 21,000 people signed up to attend from all 50 states and 80 countries.
"Everyone has a role to play in prevention, it's [not] just one person's responsibility or one organization's responsibility. It is a community-wide, multi-disciplinary effort," Alathari said.
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