The Impact of Stress on Crime

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) -- On Tuesday a south Alabama man went on a shooting rampage killing ten people before killing himself.  He had quit his job the week before and some say had been depressed.

"From what we hear it doesn't seem like he was raging as he was shooting people.  He was calmly driving to different locations and opening fire," said Dr. Phil Hestand.

Dr. Hestand is a licensed psychologist and said this type of action is a sign of some sort of break.

"What frequently will lead them to cross that line from non-violence into violence will be a sense of loss, a sense of powerlessness and a sense that they've been victimized," said Hestand.

Those who turn violent usually have a history of violent behavior, are male and under the age of 40, and have a history of psychiatric problems.

"In times of great stress, those who have poor coping skills are more likely to reach their personal point of breaking," said Hestand.

There are a lot of societal reasons that can lead to violent behavior including the type of environment someone grows up in and economic conditions.

"I think you'll see, as a result of economic downturn, a lot of crimes involving robbery, bank robberies, and convenience store robberies.  You'll see all of those start climbing," said ASU Police Chief Jim Chapman.

"There are people that will find themselves in the circumstances where they're  no longer able to provide for their family in the way that they have in the past," said Hestand.

Everyone has stress and anxiety in their lives and sometimes that stress can push a person too far.  There are some signs you can watch for including not handling stress well, having angry outbursts, showing contempt for authority, and seeing things as only good or bad.

The vast majority of people will not ever be violent.  The number of those who will make this turn, is very small.