Saturday, May 19, 2018

Guns, Internet, isolation could spur uptick in US mass shootings

Guns, Internet, isolation could spur uptick in US mass shootings
The easy availability of guns, together with the Internet and a growing sense of social isolation, could turn some people into ticking time bombs.

With yet another mass school shooting on Friday, these three factors, taken together, warrant a closer look, experts said.

Friday saw the latest US mass shooting, when an armed student went on a killing spree at a high school in the US state of Texas, with a reported death toll of 10. This is not long after the previous one in February in the US state of Florida, which left 17 dead.

Many experts point to the ready availability of firearms as the main reason there's been a stark uptick in US mass shootings over the past decade. But other experts say it's not quite that simple.

Indeed, firearms have always been relatively easy to obtain in the United States, but the past decade has seen four of the deadliest shootings in US history.

In 2007, a student at Virginia Tech killed 32 people; in 2012, a deranged gunman claimed 28 lives in the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre, including 20 children; in 2016, a gunman killed 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando. And October's Las Vegas shooting - in which nearly 60 people died and 500 were wounded -- dwarfed all three of these incidents in terms of the death toll.

Aside from guns, there are two additional factors that experts say are worth noting as possible causes for a rise in mass shootings in recent years.

Firstly, there's an increased level of social isolation in the country.

Many believe this is because people, especially young people, are spending more time than ever on social media, the Internet and smart phones. This deprives them of the human interaction that psychologists and sociologists say all people need to stay mentally healthy. Too much isolation can result in a mentally unstable person falling off the edge and committing acts of violence, goes the argument.

Recent studies have also found a major increase in depression among young people. Major US insurance company Blue Cross Blue Shield, in a recent report, found a 33-percent increase in diagnoses of depression from 2013 to 2016.

Secondly, the Internet provides the promise of instant fame for someone who commits a violent act.

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