When popular media outlets try to figure out what the individual’s motives were, they first refer to their state of mental health. When the media shows the mentally ill person’s mug shot to the public, they inadvertently portray that all mentally ill individuals are unstable, sociopathic killers. According to a study conducted by S. K. Padhy et. al, “Media reports of homicides attributed to the mentally ill seem to be depicted in a more stigmatizing manner as if to emphasize that they were different from homicides committed by others.” (163) So if the mentally ill are portrayed this way to the public, then all people are going to see them as such. To add to this, in this day and age people often hear about mass shootings either the day after the event occurs on the news or instantly from platforms like Twitter or Facebook. What makes this problem worse is that as soon as the event occurs, the media immediately reports on ever...
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... see the real problem with excessive coverage on the perpetrator and their mental illness, and have decided to take action. For example, Brown states, “Anderson Cooper, of CNN and Megyn Kelly, of Fox News, have said publicly they will limit focus on mass killers in their own programmes.” (30) Now if the rest of the media can learn from this study and limit the amount of coverage on major shootings, and the perpetrator’s state of mental health, the less likely the contagion will happen again.
Of course, there are many instances where the media does use its power for good to bring awareness to the many types of mental illnesses. However, there’s still a long way to go to reduce the stigma associated with mental illnesses. What’s important to remember what they tell the public about a certain illness may not be the same as what an actual health professional might say.
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