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Are the mass shooters just mentally ill?

One of the biggest scapegoats that many American’s will use to blame for its obscene amount of mass shootings is that the mass murderers must have been mentally ill. However, when one considers the reality of mental illness one learns that not only is this a lazy assumption, it is also dangerously wrong. Dangerous because it leads to Americans sweeping the concerning amount of massacres it experiences under the carpet.

 

 

In truth, mentally ill individuals are more likely to be the victims of violence, rather than be the perpetrators. Very rarely does an individual “snap” and go on a killing spree one day. In the majority of instances, each mass shooter meticulously planned their heinous crime in advance. In some cases, up to a year in advance. Indeed, there tends to be a theme of anger and entitlement. However, the premeditated nature by which these shooters killed so many people rules out any possible mental deficiency.

 

Infographic: Mass Shootings in America | Statista You will find more statistics at Statista

 

 

Studies suggest mass shootings are contagious and perpetuated by the media

The one factor that has stood out in the research is that mass shootings appear to be contagious. And it is none other than the media that spreads the contagions to the general public. For decades, a forensic psychiatrist, Dr. Park Dietz, has been warning the media to change the way they report the news that a mass shooting has transpired.

Indeed, many studies concur with Dietz’s recommendations. Even as recently as September 5 this year, researchers published similar findings and dire warnings in the journal American Behavioral Scientist. Only a month later, the media would fail to heed this warning. Their sub-optimal reporting of the Las Vegas shooting would follow with the further detrimental reporting of the Texas mass shooting just days ago.

 

 

According to the paper by Adam Lankford and Eric MadisDon’t name them, don’t show them, but report everything else” is the core advice. Extensive prior research has shown that when the media make the killer into a celebrity or some kind of anti-hero, another mass shooting will inevitably occur only a couple of weeks later. The data revealed that between 20-30 percent of violence transpired within that window of time.

 

Media is failing America

Anyone who ever turns on the news, or scrolls through social media, will know that the media broke all the rules psychiatrists and behavioral scientists have recommended. Therefore, should the press be held partially accountable?

It is disgusting and horrifying that the media is willing to turn a blind eye on the inevitability of future mass shootings for their own personal ratings gain. Clearly, if the press wished to prevent further horrific bloodshed, they would heed the warnings. Shockingly, when the media fails to report these killings appropriately, they do so with equal callousness to the killers who are pulling the triggers.

 

References: Scientific American, Newsweek, Statista, Slate, The Atlantic
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mage credit: flickr.com / Philadelphia City Council

 

 

 

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