School shooters are problem solvers. They are trying to turn the reputations they live with as losers into something more glamorous, more notorious. Seung-Hui Cho, a student of creative writing, probably didn't get a lot of "street cred" for his artistic side. Young men reap more social benefits from being successful on the football field. When their daily social experience — created by their own ineptness, and often by the rejection of their peers — is one of disappointment and friction, they want to reverse their social identities. How do they go about it? Sadly, becoming violent, going out in a blaze of glory, and ending it all by taking other people with them is one script that plays out in popular culture and provides a road map for notoriety.
Depression is endemic in these young men. Indeed, it can be so bad that they want to die. Why, then, don't they throw themselves in front of trains? That is the wimp's way out; it will not change their reputations. "Suicide by cop," putting themselves in a situation where the police will almost surely kill them, is a more glamorous way to go. Cho probably did not expect to survive this catastrophe. But by taking dozens of other people with him, he insured his notorious place in history and found a way to set the record straight: He was a man to be reckoned with.
If only somebody could have reached behind his walls and helped him find a place. If only he'd have tried harder, too.