NewsCovering Kern County


Officials debate connection of video games and mental health illness to mass shootings

Posted at 10:53 PM, Aug 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-06 01:53:03-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Many across the country are reacting to the two deadly mass shootings that took place in El Paso Texas and Dayton Ohio, left over 30 people dead. Even right here in Kern County members of the community are reacting to the string of mass shootings.

Erica Hernandez is a mother of three and says that she does not think video games are impacting mass shootings in our country. She says her family plays games ranging from violent to friendly games.

“For the most part I think it has to do with the parenting, because I come from a family of gamers my spouse, brother, and daughters are gamers,” said Hernandez. “So it's not a problem in our family, because of the amount of time I invest in my kids.”

On Saturday in El Paso Texas, a 21-year-old man opened fired and killed 22 people with an assault rifle. Police said they found documents believed to be written by the suspect including anti-immigrant, hate white nationalist and racist views.

He may face hate crime charges in addition to capital murder charges.

Then, a second mass shooting took place in Dayton Ohio hours later killing nine individuals. On Monday, President Trump said in a press conference stating, video games may contribute to an uptick in mass shootings

“This includes the gruesome and grizzly video games that are now commonplace,” said Trump. “It is too easy today for troubled youth to surround themselves with a culture that celebrates violence.”

The president added that mental health ,too, plays a role in the reoccurring mass shooting.

“We must reform our mental health laws to better identify mentally disturbed individuals who may commit acts of violence,” Trump said. “And that those people get treatment and voluntarily and involuntarily confinement.”

Bill Walker, director of Kern County Behavioral Health and Recovery Services says it’s not one specific thing that leads to mass shootings

“I wouldn’t rule out any one item in or out when talking about video games or social media or information that is pushed,” said Walker. “So, obviously an issue we need to look at is what information gets to people and how powerful is that information.”

Walker further shared that most of the mass shootings that have happened throughout the country have been conducted by young white males.

“Usually what we find is that you have young white males often narcissistic develop a chip on their shoulder,” Walker said. “That chip gravitates towards becoming internalized or externalized. If it is internalized it becomes suicidal thoughts and if its externalized it becomes a potential danger.”

Rosie Phillips Davis, the president of the American Psychological Association released this following statement.

“Routinely blaming mass shootings on mental illness is unfounded and stigmatizing. Research has shown that only a very small percentage of violent acts are committed by people who are diagnosed with or in treatment for mental illness. The rates of mental illness are roughly the same around the world, yet other countries are not experiencing these traumatic events as often as we face them.”

“If you do almost anything that pulls you out of engagement you will likely become depressed,” Walker said.

The Kern County Behavioral Health and Recovery Resources is encouraging anyone who is feeling anxious, angry or alone to please call their hotline at 1-800-991-5272. The hotline is available 24 hours a day.