Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Deidre Hill Butler




school, shootings, mental health, guns, Columbine


School shootings have become more relevant in our society over the past few decades, yet the debate over the cause of these shootings never seems to reach a conclusion. The current study looks at the connection between mental illness and school shootings, as well as the roles that media, gun control, violence, and masculinity play in the common phenomena. Prior literature has debated over the main causes of school shootings, but many researchers state differing opinions regarding the motivations for perpetrators. This study found that severe mental illness is the main cause of school shootings, and while mental illness may be the main explanation, a lack of social capital, alongside male pressure to conform to societal stereotypes, play significant parts as well. 96% of shooters are male, and when addressing the notion of male stereotypes, it is important to note that men, specifically men with mental illnesses, are socialized to not seek help. Other aspects that pertain to the possible causes of school shootings are the immense lack of gun control in the United States and the sensationalization of perpetrators in the media. The combination of all of these factors, with mental illness as the most prominent, contribute to the overwhelmingly sizable problem that has become school shootings. The rate of school shootings only seems to be increasing, and while school shootings may never cease to exist, the United States can certainly decrease the rate at which shootings occur through increased mental health resources in schools.