Tragedy caused by paranoia and politics

Does media fear-mongering add to the difficulty for people to cope with reality? Does it cause them to overreact?

Virginia man kills family and himself over fear Obama would be re-elected | The Raw Story.

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.

Tip: John Stewart via Submit a Story

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.”

John adds:
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.

  4 comments for “Tragedy caused by paranoia and politics

  1. September 29, 2012 at 7:18 PM

    H-O-L-Y S-H-I-…


  2. Kristen
    September 29, 2012 at 7:35 PM

    Oh man, that makes me so sad. The message that ‘if so-and-so gets in power, this horrible thing will happen’ is so pervasive, but the reality is that with our system of government the president really doesn’t have THAT much power. Whoever gets elected, the sky will still be blue, and the grass will still be green and life will go on just fine.

    If only people like this could get help. What an unspeakable tragedy, no matter what really triggered it.

  3. Zink
    September 30, 2012 at 4:24 AM

    Can we please go back to requiring some integrity and responsibility from our broadcasters in exchange for the license to go on the air? I’m seriously worried we’ll be seeing more tragedies like this on November 7.

  4. Tony Shreck
    October 1, 2012 at 8:42 AM

    I apologize in advance, because I realize I am going afield of the comment policy, not posting well-substantiated links, etc, but this story seems to me so poorly reported and without any skeptical standards (by The Mail) that I can’t resist commenting.

    It is entirely unhelpful and plays only to a different kind of bias (the conviction that media content should be regulated) to cover this story as though the political climate had anything to do with this tragedy. The relevant facts are a family history of mental illness and suicide and an individual history of paranoid and suicidal mentation/behavior in the subject. People need to appreciate that this kind of mental illness comes from within the individual and not from the environment. It is as wrong and as dangerous to blame media-induced political paranoia for these actions as it would be to blame violent video games, an imagined biotelemetric implant, or an incorrectly folded tinfoil hat. If it hadn’t been Fox News, it would have been the witch doctor across the street.

    If we’re going to hold every environmental input responsible for a sick person’s actions, why would it not be equally valid to blame Obama for taking the actions that apparently set this fellow off?

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