People are already using this horrible event to further push their political and personal agendas.
As a “PUA” for the last 8 years, a firearms and tactics instructor for the last 13 years, and living with my girlfriend who has a masters and works in the mental/behavioral health field and specializes in crisis response- we may have some of the most qualified and insightful takes on this tragedy.
First up, lets straighten out some of the facts about this story
- 6 victims dead, 4 male and 2 female
- 3 deaths from edged weapon and 3 from handgun
- Guns were legally purchased and registered to him
- California requires a background check for gun purchases, a 10 day waiting period, bans HIGH CAPACITY mags, and you must take handgun safety class (some of the strictest gun laws in the US)
- CCW permits are VERY difficult to get in California
- Murdering people is illegal in California (penal code 187-199)
- His family called police about his behavior and deputies “determined he did not meet the criteria for an involuntary hold”
Clearly this is a TERRIBLE event, and I am NOT using this tragedy to push any political, personal, or radical agenda. I just want to clearly lay out the facts that many news and web sites are slanting in their direction.
I have also read articles referencing Rodger’s posts on various internet sites, one being PUAHate (which is now offline).
They have a 180 degree different view on the subject and both think the others are crazy!
I have had guys message me and posting on my sites that The Bravohood could have saved this guy, which I disagreed with.
Rodger needed a LOT more help than my forum could have offered him. Was his lack of sexual contact with women the focus of his rage that was the tipping point?…sounds like it. But when reading some of his online posts and parts of his manifesto, he was as far off as possible when it comes to what his issue with others was.
IT WAS HIM
People picked up on his attitude and energy and made the wise decision to STAY AWAY FROM HIM.
Going to the park and sitting for hours hoping women will approach you, bragging about how expensive your shades are and what kind of car your parents bought for you, isn’t the solution to sex and losing your V-card (otherwise that is all any guy would ever do)
Becoming the man that others want to be around, that adds value to other people’s lives, that is fun and exciting and truly knows what you want and works towards attaining those goals= is how you build a life that is inviting to others.
Looking at women as a prize or as a conquest is reducing women to objects and is a distorted and unhealthy view on life and people.
Approaching and building your conversation / social skills, understanding that others don’t look at life or the timeline of attraction the same way as you, that people have to feel different emotions before they become attracted to others, and that just because YOU like someone isn’t a reason for them to like you= are things guys who want to improve their social skills need to understand.
My first gut reaction when I first heard about this was to wish I was there and that I could stop him (=Sheepdog Mindset), the main reason I moved from Ca. back to Az. was the gun laws which prevented me from being able to legally carry my firearm, but after 2 engagements with police, it wasn’t until he wrecked his own car before he killed himself. Which proves how difficult shooting on the move can be, unfortunately none of those officers were around when Elliot was on foot.
My 2nd thought was, if only he had worked past some of his issues, maybe he wouldn’t have snapped. Then I read
So it looks like he was getting as much help people thought he needed, and unless he has a history of violence, there wasn’t much more anyone could do.
So what could have been done to stop him?
Sarah, please take it away-
Let me start with this disclaimer: I have no special knowledge of Elliot Rodger or the case. I am basing my assessment of him and this situation from what I have reviewed of Elliot’s posts, from what I have gathered from the news and internet, and from my eight years of education and experience in the behavioral health field.
There have been reports that he had mental health issues, ranging from high functioning Aspergers to extreme paranoia and auditory hallucinations (hearing voices). I have no doubt that he did have Aspergers, which would account for his poorly developed social skills and inability to communicate well with others or make friends. He was also reported as very intelligent, which would account for his ability to later say whatever was needed to keep the police from forcing him to undergo an involuntary psychiatric assessment, when his parents called them for a well check. I see no evidence of paranoia or hallucinations, other than possible delusions of grandeur.
What I do see is a very angry and bitter young man, who instead of turning that anger and disappointment inward as many of us do (which results in depression, social anxiety, low self esteem, and/or impaired self confidence), Elliot Rodgerprojected all of it onto other people, blaming them for his perceived social exclusion. Regardless of whether this was caused by growing up feeling entitled to life’s happiness and others’ attention in an affluent family who gave him whatever he wanted, or due to blossoming mental health issues (most likely a bit of both), this anger and perceived injustice snowballed into a hateful narcissistic rage towards everyone he thought was having more fun than him.
What would it have taken to have stopped him, & what to do if you recognize an Elliot Rodger
Clearly there were a lot of variables here, and many people want to name or blame one (guns, improvement of social skills, police involvement, mental health treatment, parents teaching him accountability/work ethic/responsibility instead of spoiling and enabling him). Very likely, there is not just one variable that needed to have been addressed to change the course of events. I am going to focus here on the mental health and police involvement aspects, as this is what I do nearly every day here in Arizona (another disclaimer: I am familiar with this process only for Arizona; it varies somewhat from county to county and state to state, though the process and laws are usually comparable).
Anyone who saw the videos and realized how concerning they were could have reported it to police, who would have completed a well check (basically going out to his house to ask him if he was okay, and if he was really going to kill anyone). If the police felt that there was reasonable cause for concern (that he may harm himself, someone else, or had substantial enough psychiatric issues), they could have brought him in for an involuntary psychiatric assessment by a psychiatrist (this has many names, a involuntary psychiatric hold, a civil commitment, a psychiatric petition, and in California a 5150. In Arizona we call it a petition for short, which is how I will refer to it). However, as long as you say the right things to police and/or the psychiatrist (“no, i would never harm anyone, I was just angry, it was actually for a school project,” etc, etc) it is usually relatively easy to talk your way out of this type of situation. Keep in mind that when the police complete a well check, not only are they usually not trained to recognize mental health issues, they have to have reasonable cause to bring someone in. This could make it relatively easy for someone to say the things the police need to hear to believe you are not a danger. Even if the psychiatrist deems it appropriate to hold you for a couple hours up to a couple days, it is difficult to keep someone any longer than that, who is not gravely disabled or clearly a danger to self/others.
So what could have been done?
His parents could have continued following up, continued calling police for well checks, sought crisis intervention, went to his place and demand to search his room, ensured police or crisis staff actually viewed some of the concerning material, and his parents themselves (or anyone who heard/read his material) could have completed the petition. Most likely, they were unaware of the petitioning process and how to handle the situation (most people are) and did not want to believe he was capable of such violence. Clearly outpatient counseling and psychiatric services were not enough, and I am not convinced that a stay in the psych ward would have changed his belief that he was superior to others and that women (and “obnoxious men”) should pay for having denied him a happy life. By the time he had begun to plan to murder those he deemed responsible for his unhappiness, it would have taken drastic measures to have stopped him, such as an long psychiatric stay or imprisonment. And on what grounds? We live in a country where it is extremely difficult to hold or lock up people against their will, even search their house, without a very good reason. Prior to the last video being put up by Elliot, there was most likely not much to go off, unless his parents would have found his guns and writings about killing people.
Luckily, those who exhibit any Elliot type behaviors or make similar statements most likely are not quite to the extreme state that he was in just prior to the killings. If you ever hear anyone make statements about wanting to kill other people and you think that they could be even the least bit serious (and you don’t feel comfortable talking with this person to explore the issues and find out more), report it to the police and/or crisis line in your area. And keep reporting anything you hear that could indicate that person has thoughts or harm others, or him/her self. Sometimes it really does take more than one phone call.
What if you recognize a little bit of Elliot Rodger in yourself?
I have been hearing that there are many people out there who in some ways identify with or admire what Elliot did. They may feel a lack of social connections with others, they may turn the anger and disappointment inwards, or may suffer from social anxiety, depression, lack of self confidence or low self esteem. They may feel jealous and resentful of others whom they perceive to have happy and fulfilling lives, and they may be tired of feeling lonely and alone. If there is any part of you that can identify with this, and you recognize this is due at least partly to your own shortcomings, there is good news. You are one major step ahead of Elliot in improving your life than he ever was, and ever will be. The first step toward improving the quality of your life is simply being aware that there is something you would like to change or improve about yourself, and taking ownership of it. Social anxiety and depression are very treatable, and millions of people throughout the world have improved their communication and social skills, once they recognize that they are the only ones who have the responsibility and the power to make it happen. I urge any of you who feel as though they can identify with Elliot, take this moment to consider what it is that you are truly unhappy with in your life, and recognize that there are opportunities to change it. Counseling and therapy works for lots of people, and there are millions of people out there who are able to make improvements in their lives using self help/ self improvement techniques and opportunities, of which there are literally millions. Suicide (and in this case, hurting other people) is what some may turn to when they truly feel they have no other choice or opportunities in life. However, there are crisis services out there who help people every day when their thoughts turn hopeless and dark. The National Suicide Hotline is available 24/7, and is not just for people who are suicidal, but those going through a hard time. They have internet chat capabilities, and can also sometimes connect you to a local hotline that has more resources available in your area: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org, or 1-800-273-TALK.
Thanks Sarah for sharing that info with my guys on your day off!
The bottom line is crazy people, unless stopped, will always find a way to cause others harm. There are steps I take every day to mitigate the chances of ever being in life or death situations. There are also steps I take, that up my levels of awareness and options I have to defend myself and others. (and have had to use) But when someone decides to sneak attack random people in what should be safe environments, no additional laws or regulations will stop them from carrying out their goals.
Taking away the rights of others, never prevents it.
-For any of you guys who feel like you need the help Sarah wrote about, please do it. Having met quite a few of her co-workers, I can vouch for their amazing commitment to caring and helping people in their times of need, something I can relate to!
-For any of you guys who are looking for help in the areas that I teach and need support, positive advice, want to learn how to socialize and connect with others on a deeper and honest level, please join our FREE FORUM where guys like you (and me) have been able to improve our lives and are helping others do the same.