Watching the video, it is clear he suffered from depression. He speaks of his loneliness and peer rejection, and at first we wonder if perhaps he had a high functioning autism, what used to be called Asperger's disorder. We wonder, like we did with Adam Lanza, who entered an elementary school and killed 20 children, 6 adults (Sandy Hook, Connecticut), if the social correlates of Aspergers depressed him beyond rational thought, drove him to violence. Children reject other children who don't have social skills, who can't follow social cues, as is the case with Aspergers.
But a teacher interviewed speaks of a whiny complainer, an unlikable young man who thought he deserved more (mainly from blonds). Neighbors call him polite and courteous. He'd been arrested three times, prior to his final act, and police didn't feel he needed to be held in custody.
So we know he knew how to talk to people. That, or the police spoke with parents who convinced them to let him go. He was in all types of therapy, although never hospitalized.
Neighbors of his parents say they never heard any shouting in the home. His family was in the process of moving to Santa Barbara to be close to their son.
All of his weapons were registered. On the gun owner registration there is a question: "Have you ever been adjudicated mentally defective?" Elliot could say no, never having been hospitalized.
So one lesson we can take from this (and this is a correction from a previous draft of this post):
We have to take what people say seriously. When someone vocalizes plans to commit violence, someone should take steps to see that it never happens, whether the threat is a public proclamation on a blog, a vlog, on YouTube, or at a coffee shop.
Those steps should include an evaluation by a professional, and hospital emergency rooms should be considered, seriously. Medical professionals won't admit anyone involuntarily for merely joking or venting. Involuntary admissions to hospitals are exceedingly difficult, because frankly, we have rights in democratic countries.
But as a community, we shouldn't rely on hope that a potentially violent situation will just go away. Bring a child, a friend, to the hospital when in doubt. Let the professionals do what they do best. Help.The conceit expressed in Elliot's selfie-video is typical of the conceit of someone with narcissistic personality disorder. But it is an antisocial act, unfeeling mass murder, more likely to be a function of an antisocial personality. Antisocial people (ironic, since his most sincere desire had been to connect, sexually, with women) are also narcissistic. They can be depressed, too.
And yet, here it is:
They are scary, the stuff, the creatures of movies and video games. It is sad and ironic that Elliot's father, Peter Roger, is in the film industry, worked as an assistant director of The Hunger Games, among other accomplishments.
This can't be easy for him or his wife. Their son's disorder has biological underpinnings. It isn't their fault (see Adrian Raines' book, The Anatomy of Violence). Despite the fact that he may have had blurred boundaries, identified with movie characters, or watched too many video games, this behavior is likely not a consequence of that.
We're sure to find out much more about his parents and his childhood. The downside of the media, the downside of fame, is that unlike the privacy the Rodger family might have been assured, had Eliot been hospitalized, the gloves will be off.
But maybe that's a good thing. We have to promote awareness, and one thing Elliot has now, if he never had enough before, is that.