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Dr. Helen

The Seven Myths of Mass Murder

December 15th, 2012 - 3:58 am

J. Reid Meloy, author of books such as Stalking, Threatening, and Attacking Public Figures:A Psychological and Behavioral Analysis has an article readers might find helpful in light of the recent school shooting entitled “The Seven Myths of Mass Murder.” One of the myths, Meloy says, is that these incidents are increasing:

When a mass murder occurs, it receives instant and pervasive news coverage. Unfortunately, we are prone to overestimate the frequency of an event by its prominence in our minds, and mass murder is no exception. This is a very rare phenomenon and is neither increasing nor decreasing in the US. Since 1976 there have been about 20 mass murders a year. 2003 was the most violent year for mass murder, with 30 incidents and 135 victims. Virginia Tech, Fort Hood, Edmund Oklahoma, and San Ysidro still resonate in the public consciousness, however, reminding us that these events do happen. A positive counterpoint is that rates of all violent crime have significantly decreased over this same time period, from 48 victims per 1000 persons in 1976 to 15 victims in 2010. The most lethal school mass murder in US history was in Bath, Michigan, in 1927, a bombing that resulted in 45 deaths, mostly children in the second to sixth grades.

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