The tragedy in Uvalde paralyzed the nation a few weeks ago.
Nineteen young, innocent elementary students were killed, as were two teachers. The immediate reaction has been grief, sadness and shock, followed by a political debate about what to do and then silence. But there are no real solutions, no action, as we go back to our ways of life, acting as if nothing happened.
This is the pattern seen with every mass shooting in the country. From Virginia Tech to Parkland, our society has become used to mass shootings. And the news media have not helped as they publicize every shooter’s picture and name, ultimately encouraging copycats.
But the one question that no one seems to ask is this: Why are young Americans committing these horrendous acts? Why are teenagers going to their schools or other parts of the community for suicide missions? Some want to blame video games, others the AR-15 rifle. Both are wrong.
“There’s this consistent pathway,” criminologist Jillian Peterson told Politico. “Early childhood trauma seems to be the foundation, whether violence in the home, sexual assault, parental suicides, extreme bullying.
“Then you see the build toward hopelessness, despair, Isolation, self-loathing, often times rejection from peers. That turns into a really identifiable crisis point where they’re acting differently. Sometimes they have previous suicide attempts.”
Depression rates have increased for American youths. Despite the young having a higher rate of depression than most groups, the depression rate overall has increased by 34% since 2000. Age groups above 25 have a suicide rate that’s less than 10%, but for 25 and under, it’s above 10%.
Social media has also contributed to problems. There has been an increase in isolation among young people because social media reduces the incentive to go to events and meet people in person.
And entertainment has contributed to the culture of glorifying violence as well.
Add up the fact that there’s been a 35% increase in suicide since 1999, the rise of isolation, nihilism, and the collapse of marriage and family, and you have a generation in trouble. You have a generation that has lost its purpose and views the world with a depressed attitude.
We create monsters when we ignore the red flags and instead want to cover it up and pretend that everything is fine. We create these monsters when we promote them online and in the media, giving them the attention and fame they desire. And we create these monsters when we foster a culture that is fine with taking no action and glorifies violence.
There is no simple answer to how to deal with mass shootings. And I am not calling for entertainment censorship. But there will be no answer if we don’t ask how these monsters are first created in the first place.
We surely need to harden our schools with good security, train our students to report any red flags that they may see from other students, have the media not mention the shooter’s name or picture, and have local police and schools work effectively as a team.
But the most significant battle for all of us will be battling for the salvation of the soul for our nation and our future generations. Lack of purpose, isolationism, families disappearing, and nihilism are all eating away at our youth today — and it’s a problem for us all.
Carlos Turcios is a political science major at the University of Texas at Arlington and a Tarrant County Republican precinct chairman.