Adam Lanza Committed "Digital Suicide" Before Sandy Hook Rampage


As President Obama scrambles to propose assault weapon bans and national background checks in the wake of December 14's Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, where suspected gunman 20-year-old Adam Lanza killed 20 children and 8 adults — including his mom and self — investigators continue to search for clues to explain this horrific tragedy and prevent similar ones from happening in the future. 

And, in addition to a thorough review of our gun laws (or lack thereof) and our mental health services and programs, attention has also focused on technology — particularly violent video games — and the fact that Lanza destroyed his computer's hard drive before allegedly perpetrating the Newtown killing rampage (something The Washington Post's Michael S. Rosenwald calls "digital suicide").

As it turns out, besides Newtown's hairstylist, practically no one knew or was familiar with Adam Lanza — as the 20-year-old did everything "but cutting his hair or going to the bathroom" online.

"He's my guy. These are my people," Sherry Turkl — an MIT professor and author of Alone Together — told WaPo's Rosenwald about Adam Lanza. Turkl believes "our networked life" allows us to "hide from each other" and "find an illusion of companionship without the demands of friendship."

But was this the problem with Lanza? The fact that he destroyed his computer's hard drive ("digital" or "online" suicide before committing the real or "offline" one) is very telling of how secretive Lanza could have been; but this doesn't answer all the pressing questions that still linger after the horrific massacre.

So we're left still with many more questions than answers when trying to make sense of this terrible tragedy and its potential causes. Is gun control the answer? Should we look into mental health issues? How about technological ones and our increasing tendency to live virtual lives as opposed to "real" ones? Does this mean that everyone who prefers to shop online could become a potential killer?

Hopefully, Lanza's upcoming DNA tests can shed some light over these and other disturbing issues.