Shirah Vollmer MD

The Musings of Dr. Vollmer

Unspeakable Tragedy: Again, and Close to Home

Posted by Dr. Vollmer on November 1, 2013

LAX, such an obvious target for violence, was struck today, in the international terminal, where it appears the gunman was 23 years old and male. Those traveling, I can only imagine, were shocked and terrified. The parents and family of the gunman, also must be devastated. The wounded, terrified with physical and potentially life-threatening injuries. Those of us, watching on the news, thinking if we know anyone flying today, may also be a bit shaken, as I am. For no logical reason, the proximity of LAX makes this tragedy add on to the vulnerability, which feels new, that this rapid succession of violent crimes is creating. Newtown, Connecticut, the Boston Marathon, Virginia Tech, years ago, all come flooding back to my mind. On the one hand, we go through security at LAX, suggesting that harm can happen, and on the other hand, most airport travels are free of violence. Certainly, after the shooting is probably one of the safest times to be at LAX, and yet the fear must be enormous. Now, what about the gunman’s family? How can they possibly put this into perspective? Why is this gunman, like all the previous perpetrators male? Why is he, again like previous perpetrators, also under 40? Is there something about the young-adult male that makes him more prone to, what seems like, random violence? And what about the victims with physical wounds? How will they make sense of their new life, of this hinge moment in theirs? Some PTSD experts, such as our local Robert Pynoos MD, says that PTSD is like a pebble thrown into a lake. The closer one is to that pebble, the larger the ripple. So too, this tragedy at LAX, ten miles South of my office, makes me closer to that pebble than I was in Boston or Newtown. Proximity matters, he would teach us. Twenty plus years later, his teachings help me understand the workings of the mind. Thanks.

2 Responses to “Unspeakable Tragedy: Again, and Close to Home”

  1. Ashana M said

    And yet we still can’t figure out that if people don’t have guns it’s so much harder to commit mass murder…

    In answer to one of your other questions, yes, the vast majority of violent crimes are committed by young men. When the percentage of young men in the population declines, so does the rate of violent crime.

  2. Shelly said

    Why do the perpetrators feel like they have to go out with a “blaze of glory?” They have an ax to grind? Kill someone or shoot up an airport and cause mayhem. Wound and maim. What can be going on in their minds that make them want to be copycats of previous airport gunmen? Does this give them their 10-minutes of fame? Does it make them feel better about themselves?

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