Detecting mental health problems and suicidal motives among terrorists and mass shooters.Crim Behav Ment Health. 2016 Dec; 26(5):315-321.CB
For years, many scholars dismissed the possibility that terrorists - including suicide attackers - could be mentally ill or primarily suicidal. However, that view is gradually changing.
Researchers continue to face significant challenges when attempting to detect mental health problems and suicidal motives among terrorists and mass shooters, because many offenders cannot easily be psychologically assessed. This article offers several specific recommendations for how researchers can better understand offenders' mental state by studying their life histories and behaviour.
Research on detection of mental disorders and suicidal intent is reviewed and applied to specific challenges for assessing terrorists and mass shooters.
It appears that researchers can improve the accuracy of their assessments by (1) recognising the likelihood of under-diagnosis of mental disorders, (2) prioritising in-depth evaluation and analysis of mental state and (3) considering the role of social and situational factors in suicidal ideation and motivation.
More accurate detection of mental health problems and suicidal motives among terrorists and mass shooters could help advance scientific understandings of these individuals and even help prevent lethal attacks. Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.