Mass shooters strive for attention

By Barbara De La Hoya
Contributing Writer

Information is so easily accessible there is truly no such thing as bad publicity. So when the media mentions killers, viewers will not only become familiar with their names, but with their whole backstory. Instead of ignoring the rallying cries of those affected, the media needs to end the primetime slots they give mass shooters.


We need to stop putting their names and faces out there for public viewing. We need to stop sensationalizing tragedies. Some people are quick to blame the guns or the lack of mental health aide provided in the U.S.

But America is a country with the world at its fingertips. Citizens can help minimize spreading mass shooters profiles. They should focus on the victims of tragedies and help the victims through different social media platforms.


Of the 30 deadliest shootings in the U.S. dating back about 70 years, 19 have occurred in the last decade. On Feb. 14 in Parkland, Florida, a gunman opened fire on students and faculty of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, killing 17 and injuring several others. In times like these, society calls for gun control, ban or reform, stricter background checks and mental health awareness.

According to the National Rifle Association’s website, the organization opposes firearm registration and expanding firearm background checks. This is because they don’t stop criminals from attaining firearms and would deprive individuals of due process of law. The NRA’s arguments include that federal gun control laws are already strong enough and that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”


According to a study published on, mass shootings committed by people with serious mental illness represent less than 1 percent of all yearly gun-related homicides. People with mental illnesses committed only about 3 percent of violent crimes.

Mental health reform and gun control discussions truly do not have that much of an impact on mass shootings as much as society thinks they do. Elizabeth Lopatto, science editor for The Verge, said shootings are not individual incidents anymore. She said society is looking at an epidemic, and suggests people look for patterns in motives instead of remembering names.


The problem arises from the contagion effect of mass killings and “tragedy TV.” According to a study published by the Toulouse School of Economics, Herostratos syndrome, which has been identified as a potential explanation for some odious crimes committed, is perpetrated by individuals who prefer to be known for their crimes. There are some, such as Seung-Hui Cho, who admitted that infamy was their only motive for committing a mass shooting.

This is why websites such as implore mass mediums to cease using the names and pictures of killers altogether. And they have a point.

When such tragedies occur, faces and names of mass shooters are plastered all over Facebook, TV, Twitter, Google and newspapers for the next criminal to potentially gawk at and be inspired by.


According to PLOS ONE, a peer reviewed journal, several past studies have found that media reports of suicides and homicides appear to increase the incidence of similar events by planting the seeds of ideation in at-risk individuals to commit similar acts. According to the study, mass killings involving firearms are incited by similar events in the immediate past.

A study published by the American Psychological Association, an organization representing psychology in the U.S., found that most shooters desired fame and wished to emulate a previous mass shooter.

Advertising exists for a reason. The more the public sees and hears about a product repeatedly, chances are they’re going to want it. The same goes for these infamous murderers. Steve Chapman, a columnist and editorial writer for the Chicago Tribune, said it best: Society needs to stop glorifying them and deprive them of the attention they seek.