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27 Apr, 2009 11:36

April sees spike in bloodshed worldwide

April is becoming the deadliest month, with more and more violent incidents taking place at this time of year.

Some believe the timing is more than a coincidence; others attribute the general trend to media copy cats and lax gun laws.

In the U.S., April seems to have become the deadliest month. The Oklahoma City bombings and the massacres at Columbine High School and Virginia Tech University all occurred in the fourth month of the year.

“The people who commit these crimes are obviously very disturbed people. In April, when things are starting to get warmer, people are starting to socialize – it’s in their face, and it ignites the spark of their resentment, so you these things happening,” suggests clinical psychologist Drew Permut.

This April in the US, 13 people were shot dead at an immigration centre in New York, three were gunned down in Athens, Georgia, and another three injured by a gunman in Virginia's Hampton University.

Guns may be part of the problem, but legal policy expert David Ridcard thinks there’s a much more dangerous weapon being used – the media.

“I think that the press cycle we have reinforces whatever motivates some of the people to do what they are doing. Giving them coverage and attention spurs people who, for whatever reason, do these things.”

Each drop of media attention creates a copycat effect which is seeing these types of shootings spread all over the world.

Europe appears to have caught the bug of what was previously regarded as an 'American syndrome.'

Last month, 13 people died in a shooting spree in South Germany, just hours after a rampage in the US state of Alabama.

“Did the Americans want to have any triggering effect on this one? They probably did. They probably wanted to get spoken of in the media, and they are on the verge already, so it helps them to slip over the top ,” claims the director of the American Institute of Psychology, Simon Meyerson

January saw two incidents in European countries: A man fatally stabbed two infants and a woman at a childcare centre in Western Belgium, while in Norway, a policeman shot dead a trainee teacher, before turning the gun on himself outside a school.

Germany suffered its worst incident of the kind in 2002 – with 17 people killed.

In Finland, two bloody massacres in 2007 and 2008 left twenty people dead.

“The presence of guns is a big factor, and the presence of violence in the media is an additional factor. But the crucial thing is the isolation of an adolescent person,” adds Meyerson.

The United States as well as European countries are now facing greater pressure to counter their gun lobbies and toughen legislation – to prevent the disease from becoming an epidemic.