The nation reeled recently in the wake of another school shooting, this one at Umpqua Community College in Oregon. In particular, there has been much debate over the release of the shooter’s name. CNN came under fire immediately, stating the name directly after a video clip of the Umpqua sheriff’s refusal to give the shooter attention by repeating his name during a news conference.
Some are not entirely sure why it is such a big deal to repeat the name of a shooter or killer. Dr. Stephen Reich, head of the New York Forensic Psychology Group, believes it is important for people to understand how the names of killers can impact people and why they should be kept under wraps.
“The law of these tragic shootings is that it probably incites another person to do so,” said Reich. While the event does not necessarily create the psychological conditions that can lead someone to become a killer, Reich believes that these events can push someone already predisposed towards killing to take action.
In a manifesto left behind by the Umpqua shooter, the names of several different school shooters were mentioned including the Columbine, Charleston, and Sandy Hook shooters. The Umpqua shooter even went so far as to blog specifically about the fame that all of these shooters received after their attacks. The shooter’s blogs reveal that his intention was not just to hurt people but also to secure a place in history in the process.
It is next to impossible to truly predict if someone is or is not capable of committing a crime. According to Reich, it is very common to see shooters with troubled and criminal histories showing a potential for crime triggered by the examples set by other shooters. While it might not be possible to identify who these people are before a shooting happens, eliminating factors that push them towards committing such horrific acts is a crucial part of preventing future tragedies.