Existential Sources of School Shootings and Columbine

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Manifestations of school shooting or ‘columbine’, constituted by armed mass attacks and murders in educational institutions perpetrated by adolescents, have proliferated in recent years. They are marked by their unpredictability, spontaneity and cruelty. This phenomenon has been subject to scholarly examination from various perspectives, enabling the elucidation of its multifarious traits and characteristics as a means of diagnosis and prevention. This study surveys established academic approaches to the study of school shootings (psychological, legal, sociological, semiotic, existential) and delineates their specificity and scope. Drawing on analysis of incidents of school shootings in Russia from 2014-2022, key signs and tendencies in the occurrence of mass attacks on educational institutions are delineated. Adopting existential approaches in philosophy and psychology, notably the works of A. Camus, E. Fromm, M. Boss, V. Frankl and L. Berkowitz, the semantic stages and constituents of school shootings as existential crimes and subsequent suicides are elucidated. The present study aims to identify and characterise the roots and essence of school shootings ('columbine') as an existential crime type, in order to comprehend the semantic motivational origins of school shootings and analyse the ‘boundary situation’ engendering individual destructive rebellion against the world. The nexus between unresolved existential needs and quandaries of the individual and the factors triggering self-destructive personality mechanisms is expounded, whereby the individual enacts an ‘escape’ from reality against the backdrop of media-disseminated aggressiveness and legitimation of violence as a means of overcoming problems and self-presentation. The existential analysis and modelling of school shooters’ actions offered here has enabled conclusions to be drawn regarding potential countermeasures to such crimes.

About the authors

Liudmila V. Baeva

Astrakhan Tatishchev State University

Author for correspondence.
Email: baevaludmila@mail.ru
ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0439-525X

PhD in Philosophy, Professor, Director of the Caspian Humanitarian Institute, Pofessor of Department of Philosophy

20a Tatischeva St., 414056, Astrakhan, Russian Federation


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Copyright (c) 2023 Baeva L.V.

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