For journalists it has long been considered a professional taboo to report suicides on the front page out of courtesy to the families. Additionally, heavily reported suicides lead to attention-based copycat events. Journalists who report on suicides and publications that print the stories are viewed as transparent and unprofessional and their circulation and readership numbers can drop severely when they report detailed stories and blurbs that are not buried effectively in the meat of the paper.
For those who desire to go out with a bang, turning to police assisted suicide has become normal. Do something so heinous and immediate that the only response is to require someone to kill you before you kill more. That way, you will get the front page for sure.
Others are opting to commit themselves, but in such a way that there is no chance it will go unreported. Set a record in number of people killed. Send tapes of your litanous tirade to the media blaming those who you feel led you to your insanity. What is unfortunate, is that while these events are reported and heavily so, the result is that just like a traditional suicide on the forefront of the paper, other attention seeking, depressed, and angry people follow suit, trying to one-up each other in death with the worst possible crimes against humanity as a vehicle to end their own lives.
Worse still, the politically correct media attemps to shift the blame from the criminal act to the society. They purport that we somehow failed because he was signed out of a mental hospital while still certifiably dangerous. Teachers and roomates who suspected something was wrong should have said something, done something. We don't have good enough alert systems, and the doors to our colleges and schools even open the wrong direction so we can't barricade ourselves safely inside. It is all our fault. The perpetrator is simply another victim in this-let's light a candle for him, and hold a vigil for his soul. We justify his heady, self-righteous belief that society is to blame for his actions, that the blood is on our hands. We are told it could be anyone, anywhere. The truth is yes, the next one could be that stranger standing next to you, but he's not just anyone. Changing the orientation of the doors and assumming its not an if but a when the next event will happen does not really prevent it, and this guy is certainly not the average joe who suddenly snapped. Our excusing and martyring the victims memory is absolutely not healing the next guy, rather its fueling him on and inspiring those who idealize his radical actions.
As it stands, there have been 7 school and college shootings in the last 6 months, all of which the perpetrator was killed by himself, the police, or a bystander. All have been heavily reported in the media. At least three other public shootings have occured since the commencement of 2007 not including school related events. Public shootings and violence have become significantly more prevalent each year and I can't help but suspect the media's handling of the news has been partially to blame. For example, all five deadly school shootings in 1998 happened within a 3 month time frame. These are not isolated events, these people are being inspired and feeding off the work of one another via heavy media reporting and speculation.
Maybe we are at fault, just not in the way we thought. For those who feel perpetually misunderstood, it must be glorious to imagine themselves the subject of Nancy Grace ad nauseum. The fact remains, we must find a different way of disseminating information to the public without glorifying violent suicides, and in so doing, encouraging them. Meanwhile, little to nothing is said about the real victims, and the devastated lives of their families left in the wake.