Archives of Suicide Research

, Volume 5, Issue 4, pp 285-292

First online:

Media and mass homicides

  • Christopher H. CantorAffiliated withAustralian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention, Griffith University
  • , Peter SheehanAffiliated withUniversity of Queensland, Australian Catholic University
  • , Philip AlpersAffiliated with
  • , Paul MullenAffiliated withDepartment of Forensic Psychiatry, Monash University

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A series of seven mass-homicides occurring in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom 1987--1996 is presented in the context of possible media influences. These crimes are exceptionally rare facilitating study based on similarity, time linkage and statements by the assailants. Time linkage suggests three incidents might have occurred through a modelling process. Statements link two incidents -- one not being linked by time. It is argued that modelling may have occurred over a period as long as ten years. A ripple effect with these incidents generating other serious violence may also have occurred. Researchers of media influences on suicide and homicide need to take into account the constraints on findings, in relation to time frames and ripple effects, imposed by macro research designs. The micro perspective afforded by the study of very rare massive publicity linked events may generate new insights. These findings raise ethical dilemmas for the media.

homicide media modelling suicide