It's no secret that mass shooters like the one in Oregon are seeking attention. They are unknown outside of their very small worlds, and they think they deserve to be known. Unfortunately, the only thing they can come up with is murder.
But there's another factor. It's contagious. Lee Habeeb cites some instances in which a single highly publicized suicide can inspire others. The same thing is happening with the mass-shooter suicides. Habeeb's article is Media Coverage Foments Copycat Suicides, Including Mass-Shooter Suicides:
I won’t name him because it’s what he wanted. Earlier this year, the deranged 26-year-old gunman who snuffed out the lives of nine innocent human beings before taking his own life on the campus of Umpqua Community College provided some real insight into the minds of the young men involved in what is a disturbing — and growing — trend in America: mass-shooter suicides.
And that’s what these are, these mass shootings. They are suicides that would not be big national stories without a body count that included innocents killed in movie theaters, churches, schools. And, to judge from the shooter’s words, they are mass shootings that might not have happened at all had there been no prospect of mass-media coverage.
But don’t believe me. Here is what the shooter had to say about another deranged gunman, the gunman who took the lives of two journalists in Roanoke, Va., this past August before taking his own.
“On an interesting note, I have noticed that so many people like him are all alone and unknown, yet when they spill a little blood, the whole world knows who they are,” the soon-to-be-infamous gunman from Oregon posted on a popular website.
He wasn’t finished: “A man who was known by no one, is now known by everyone. His face splashed across every screen, his name across the lips of every person on the planet, all in the course of one day. Seems the more people you kill, the more you’re in the limelight.”
The killer wanted to be noticed. Sheriff John Hanlin recognized that early on and tried to deny him of that. But it takes effort on the part of reporters who see their jobs as publicist for the dreadful. But maybe, just maybe, they'll overcome this weakness when they see the harm they do.
But there's another culprit here. Hugh Hewett nails him: "But if a maniac can count on a command performance from the president within hours of his shooting spree, well then, that is quite the incentive, isn't it?"