Friday, November 23, 2018

Mass Murders and Mental Illness

I beat on SUMIFS, ADDRESS, and INDIRECT functions in Excel long enough to calculate how many mass murder deaths per 100,000 people in each decade had mental illness as a cause.  The results do suggest, even with still missing data for the 1980s and later that something is going on, with rising murder rates starting in the 1980s, when the "humane" emptying of the mental hospitals had been completed; although nothing like the 1860s and 1870s.  (If the bloodletting and suffering of the Civil War would not unhinge people, what would?)

This graph is  changing shape as I enter recent mass murders.  Crimes like this in 1985 should have started the alarm bells.

Springfield, Penn. (1985)
10/30/1985: Woman enters a shopping mall, shooting a .22 rifle.  She murdered three and wounded ten. Her mother had written newspaper articles about the need for the  murderer’s hospitalization because of her paranoid schizophrenia.  She was only stopped when a graduate student, thought it was a stupid Halloween prank and took away the rifle.  She had a long history of bizarre and frightening behavior, including stabbing a guidance counselor, and attempted murder.  Because of the recent revisions to mental health law, she was not hospitalized.
Category: public
Suicide: no
Cause: mental illness
Weapon: rifle[1]

[1] Mara Bovsun, “[redacted] went psycho and killed three innocent people at the Springfield, Pa., mall,” New York Daily News, Dec. 2, 2012,, last accessed November 24, 2018.
Acquaintances said she was always angry and nicknamed her "Ms. Rambo."
Even her mother was terrified. In July 1985, Ruth [redacted] wrote an article for a Pennsylvania paper, the Springfield Press, about life with her paranoid schizophrenic 25-year-old daughter. She had pleaded for years to keep her child locked up, but to no avail. "What do you need? Blood on the floor?" she wrote.


And as I add recent mass murders in, the "mental illness" cause has gone up to 25% of all U.S. mass murders.


  1. Blood is better for the media to dance in, of course.

  2. I'd forgotten about that shooting. I think one or more of my sisters worked at that mall around that time frame.

  3. The nice things about graphs (and I suppose spreadsheets) is that they allow you to visually what you already might already experientially suspect. We know that violence was an issue in the South and on the frontier after the war. We know that Southerners and vets often went west (particularly to the southwest, Texas, Kansas, etc). And as a result of violence and the Southern honor culture (I believe the blog host might know a thing or two about this) the nation began it's failed experiment with gun control.

    There is a nibbling thought in the back of my mind having to do with latent mental illnesses and the general instability of the war as it relates to the context of the time. Not sure where it's going, but interesting subject to stir further.

    Good work Mr. Cramer, I am looking forward to this book and the conclusions that come with it.

  4. Nevadacarry: Curiously, many of these incidents are not in the West or the South.

  5. Re: the Springfield Mall shooting. They didn't work there, but one exited the mall just prior to the shooting. Said she was nervous for days. At some point after, she obtained her CCW.