Media restraint and mental health

December 17th, 2013 by Ken

Another school, another school shooting, and the media played it over and over and over again.

Mass shootings around America have been with us for decades.   I suspect that mass killings pre-date our mass media, but the 24-hour news cycle and the need for violence and blood to lead newscasts, creates a media frenzy when a mass shooting erupts anywhere in the country.

Two modern patterns have contributed to the number of mass shootings.

The first problem is mental health.   Decades ago, in order to protect personal privacy and individual rights, the United States did away with mental health hospitals and the involuntary commitment of the mentally ill.   Concerns about abuses in these hospital sickened the country.

It was replaced by drugs and counseling.   But in our efforts to protect individuals, we have forgotten that some people can’t be helped by drugs and counseling alone.   Consequently they are left to fend for themselves and fight the demons that possess them.

The second pattern is the media.

Playing up the shootings and running story, after story after story on each incident leads those with mental problems to see that mass shootings are a way to draw attention to their problems.

They know the more people they kill, and the more innocent these people are, the more the media will focus their attention on them and their problems.

Not all mass killings are the result of deranged individuals.   But all mass killers have emotional and mental issues that haven’t been resolved.

We need to do two things that may help decrease the number of incidents.

We need to appeal to the media to downplay mass killings and ask them not to name the individuals doing the killing.   Hopefully this will reduce the number of copy cat killers who see the media as the answer to their problems.

And, we need to spend more money on mental health as well as review our mental health laws in relationship to involuntary commitments.

Both actions will do more to stop mass killings than anything else.

Posted in Government, History, Informational, The Real News

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