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Experts Warn of Contagion Effect from Mass Shootings

After another spate of mass shootings in the US during mid-April, researchers are sounding the alarms about the potential for even more, due to what they refer to as a “contagion effect.”

Jillian Peterson is associate professor of criminology at Hamline University. She says that pandemic-related trauma and gun violence in particular have correlated to a recent increase in firearm sales, and that concerns her. She said:

We do know that those types of mass shootings are contagious, that they tend to spread through things like the media and social media. The people who are maybe vulnerable see themselves in other perpetrators who do this. (People) who are in crisis, who have access to weapons, they see one make national headlines, and there is this copycat effect.

Peterson is especially concerned about the effect of media coverage on potential copycat shooters. She said, “When you make these individuals famous, that's what other people are looking for. They're looking for that notoriety. They want to be a household name, just like the perpetrator that came before them.”

Forensic psychologist Joel Dvorkin says that preventing mass shootings should be linked with suicide prevention, especially because so many gun deaths nationwide include suicide. He said:

Whenever somebody decides to kill a bunch of people, they're deciding to end their life as they know it. Nobody goes back to their job. Nobody goes back to their family. Either they kill themselves, or they make sure that the police kill them, or they go away for the rest of their life to either prison or a hospital.

Possible Preaching Angle:

Life is too precious for us not to not take every step of prevention possible to preserve it, especially during seasons of chronic hopelessness.

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