WASHINGTON, D.C., UNITED STATES, November 8, 2017 / -- Mass shootings are complex and tragic phenomena comprised of multiple contributing factors. According to American Association of Suicidology (AAS) expert members and recent research, suicidality of the perpetrator of a mass shooting may be an important underlying factor.

Julie Cerel, PhD, President of the American Association of Suicidology, says, “It is imperative that more research is funded and conducted to help us determine who is at most risk of suicide and killing others as part of their suicidal act.”

Experts on the phenomenon of murder-suicide from AAS highlight the following points:
1) Research suggests that individuals who perpetrate murder-suicides are often primarily driven by thoughts of suicide.
2) Easy access to firearms may be the difference between having thoughts of murder-suicide versus acting on those thoughts.
3) The vast majority of people who are suicidal do not perpetrate mass murder. Murder-suicides, while alarming, are very rare events that deserve further study and consideration. Suicide, as well as mass shootings and cases of mass violence, are often the result of multiple determinants and cannot be adequately explained by simplistic motivations. Attributing such motivations to a person’s act of mass murder can trivialize the tragedy and increase the discrimination surrounding mental health.

Mass shootings are a major public health issue in need of nuanced understanding. Therefore it is critical that we have better data to know how to reduce the likelihood that they unfold on a regular basis, simultaneously decreasing exposure to trauma, violence, and suicide.

AAS Experts available to talk to the media:

Dr. Michael Anestis - (601) 818-2821;
Dr. Craig Bryan - (801) 587-7978;

For the media: We urge members of the media to share suicide prevention resources in all of their reports. Responsible reporting on suicide and the inclusion of stories of hope and resilience can prevent more suicides. You can find more information on safe messaging around suicide here.


About AAS: Founded in 1968, AAS promotes suicide as a research discipline, public awareness programs, public education and training for professionals and volunteers. The membership of AAS includes mental health and public health professionals, researchers, suicide prevention and crisis intervention centers, school districts, crisis center volunteers, survivors of suicide loss, attempt survivors, and a variety of lay persons who have in interest in suicide prevention. You can learn more about AAS at

Colleen Creighton
American Association of Suicidology
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