A few weeks ago, our first guest, author, radio and TV host, and super genius Michael J. Sullivan, dropped by for a chat. In this episode, Michael and I discuss the “mind reading” phenomenon, our recent interview with the director of the CIA’s intelligence training school, and our latest book, The Way of the World.
Here’s a video of the full conversation: (Thanks to our pals at WIRED for the clip)
This article is part of an Opinion series by the staff of USA TODAY, a news organization solely focused on covering America’s gun culture.
In a video in 2007, a group of teenagers were caught on video, by a member of the neighborhood watch group, threatening to commit suicide with a shotgun.
“This is gonna be for sure, you’ll know who you’re messing with when you see what we have,” says a man in the video. According to a police report, the teens said they were “going to hang himself out front of his house in 15 minutes.”
A jury found six of the teens legally responsible for the threat — but a judge ordered the teens to pay $100,000 in restitution, according to court documents.
Today, I was in my office, trying to determine the consequences of the “suicide” threats — and I came across a chilling example of the psychological damage the threat can inflict.
It was the day after the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007. A 20-year-old man was found dead at the scene, a shotgun in his hand. The crime had been committed, police said, in the name of his roommates, but he made no mention of killing himself.
I wrote about the case at the time.
What I didn’t know at the time was that as a psychologist, I had been researching whether the shooting might have been motivated by a similar impulse — to commit suicide, perhaps? And it turns out there was a disturbing piece of evidence that made me question it.
After my article was published, a Virginia Tech counselor shared some of the findings with me.
The counselor had worked at a hospital that treated the shooter, Seung-Hui Cho. In fact, he had been assigned as a psychiatric counselor by the school.
“He was talking about what he knew he did,” the counselor said, “and he said, ‘I knew I was suicidal when I did this.’ He was really upset because he did not think
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