Does media fear-mongering add to the difficulty for people to cope with reality? Does it cause them to overreact?
A Virginia man allegedly killed himself and his family earlier this week in part because he was upset by the thought of President Barack Obama being re-elected.
“He felt that our God-given rights were being taken away,” a family friend identified as “Maggie L.” told The Daily Mail. “He didn’t like where the country was going.”
The friend said Albert Peterson, a defense contractor, had a history of paranoia and was also affected by a favorite uncle’s recent suicide. On Wednesday, The Washington Post reported that Peterson, his wife Kathleen and their two sons, Matthew and Christopher, were found dead in their home.
According to The Mail, authorities believe Peterson shot his wife and the children before turning the gun on himself. Maggie told the newspaper that his family had a history of mental illness; his father killed himself when Peterson was young, and the death of his mother five years ago, she said, nearly drove him to suicide before Kathleen saved him.
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The original news story appeared here in the Washington Post. The only mention that hints of the cause is this:
“He was worried about everything,” Alter said. “He felt the economy was going in the wrong direction. He was worried about politics. He couldn’t shake things.”
The Daily Mail appears to have done more digging, interviewing one informant, “Maggie L.”, who described Mr. Peterson as paranoid and subscribing to the world view promoted by Fox News. She seems to be the source of the claim that he killed his family because he dreaded the thought of Obama being reelected.
Others dread the thought of Romney being elected. But we will survive. (Unless, of course, you elect a president who incites a war.)
Sadly, with a history of mental illness in the family, this person perhaps could not cope with the turmoil in the world today. Media fear mongering feeds this paranoia.