Suicidal Mass Murderers: A Criminological Study of Why They Kill

John Liebert, William J. Birnes

February 22, 2011 by CRC Press
Reference - 335 Pages
ISBN 9781420076783 - CAT# 76787


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  • Provides first-hand empirical and experimental data currently lacking in the existing literature on mass homicidal/suicidal offenders
  • Discusses the pathophysiology of violent offenders
  • Evaluates law enforcement responses and lessons learned
  • Introduces and explains the concept of apocalyptic mass murder
  • Considers the balance between protecting the public and patients’ constitutional protections


On April 16, 2007, Cho Seung-Hui, a student at Virginia Tech with a history of mental illness, became the perpetrator of the most infamous school shooting in the history of the United States. In the aftermath of the killings and Cho’s subsequent suicide, one primary question emerged: Why? Suicidal Mass Murderers: A Criminological Study of Why They Kill explores the answer to this and related questions.

Detailing Cho’s descent into madness that culminated in this tragic event, the book asks how we can:

  • Identify and red flag the potentially dangerous
  • Intervene early in their lives to prevent violence
  • Mitigate potential damage
  • Sequester, even involuntarily, the violent mentally ill
  • Treat the dangerously mentally ill to being them back into meaningful lives
  • Do all of this while protecting the patient’s constitutional rights

Exploring the concept of whether such violent acts can be predicted, the book reveals the potential warning signs to look for in suspect individuals. First responders, public health authorities, and clinicians must learn to detect these early indicators if there is any hope in preventing a catastrophe such as what occurred at Virginia Tech from ever happening again.

John Liebert maintains a website with additional information. In 2013, he received the Perciball Pott Virtuous Surgeon Award from McGill University Faculty of Medicine.