Mass Shooting Cycles

Perhaps one of the most horrifying revelations about mass shootings is the sort of “seasonality” aspect behind them. Mass shootings, for the most part, are not going on all the time; rather, they bundle in periods of hysteria and outrage. So, what is it exactly that goes into these mass shooting cycles?

Of course we know that news plays a big role. The “copycat killer” phenomenon is pretty well-researched at this point; if there is a news story about a big mass shooting, more mass shooting stories will be to follow; partially because of copycats, and partially because the news notices that the SEO ranking of “mass shooting” goes up by a lot, and therefore they hunt for any possible events. It is a cycle of looking for press on both sides.

However, I don’t think news is entirely to blame. After all, a big mass shooting is in fact a newsworthy event, and people do in fact deserve to know about it. Perhaps 24-hour news coverage is unhealthy (abusing SEO on it is certainly unhealthy), but I don’t think we can all just say “let’s ban mass shooting news from now on”.

I think it also has to do a lot with the general environment going on in the times. When extremism grows, acts of terrorism such as mass shootings will grow alongside it. Note that many of the current shootings have been influenced either by politics or religion, which are often the best measures of spreading extremism. 

And, when we’re talking about macro-trends, mental health has a lot to do with it as well. The majority of the time these crimes are committed by people who were never well in the first place, and didn’t get the help they needed. Being cognizant of the current mental health crisis may give us insights into why people do what they do.

And, on top of these three things, I’m sure there’s other, more hidden reasons to why all of this happens. The good news is that if we can find what makes up the cycle, then we can likely find out how to break it as well.

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