This Isn’t Really About Guns

St. Louis School Shooting Re-Opens the Topic of Men’s Mental Health


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People took the Instagram to support CVPA after the recent shooting. Screenshot via Instagram @cityacademystl.

Gabrielle Williams, Opinion and Entertainment Editor

A few weeks ago there was a shooting in St. Louis at a high school twenty minutes away from our own. In our community there was a lot of pain and concern. Questions were asked such as; how could this happen so close to us, how could someone ever do that, and how do we keep this from happening again. That last question is the most interesting one because it seems to be the most frequently asked, and the least frequently answered.

Nearly all mass shooters are males. This statistic is not saying that males are the more violent sex or that females are the more nurturing sex. This statistic is clearly saying that men aren’t getting the help that they need to get in order to not become these mass shooters. It’s not the violent video games or eating lunch alone at school, it’s the societal pressure of men to keep their feelings inside because that’s the world we as people have chosen to live in for such a long time. It’s difficult to have discussions about the differences between the sexes without generalizing or reinforcing stereotypes, which is why this conversation is so avoided. 

No one can really answer the question, “why do school shootings happen and how can we stop them,”,= because the answer is poorly researched and hard to find. Men’s mental health has hardly ever been given the attention it needs to be given. Any professional or person living in our American culture will tell you it’s because men are supposed to be strong and it’s uncomfortable to see them expressing weak or emotional behavior. In media and television men’s emotional behavior is often expressed through anger and violence. On a television show when a man gets cheated on he doesn’t eat a pint of ice cream and have a good cry, but instead he beats up the guy who his partner cheated with. If we as a society don’t give men the example of letting out emotions in a healthy way, and instead we reinforce violent behavior, things will never change. Afterall, people with a healthy emotional outlet do not shoot up schools or even think of doing so. 

Over the last decade America has decided to put the blame on violent video games and media content. This is a simple idea. A kid plays first person shooter games and then gets inspired and decides to live that fantasy out in the real world. But that’s not what’s happening at all. Millions of young people play violent video games and watch violent movies, TV shows, and internet content. But millions of young people don’t turn out to be mass shooters. If every person who has ever played a first person shooter game ended up shooting up a school, this would be an entirely different conversation. Perhaps it’s just easier to blame a video game instead of a parent, a school environment, peers, or sexism. The conversation that would lead us to an answer as to why most mass shooters are men is uncomfortable and hard to deal with, which is why there isn’t a clear answer. 

I certainly don’t fully understand why either. People are afraid of uncertainty and the gray in a black and white world. We fear the answer to why bad things happen to good people or why people are bad. But the fear that we have is stopping us from making the world a better place. Focus on mental health and creating supportive environments for men will be hard and it will take years of work to reverse the effects of our culture. But if we don’t start now, the school shootings will only become more frequent and the fear will only become harder to overcome. There is no clear answer of how we can fix things, but talking is a great start.