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Violent videogames possible culprit for Monday's Navy Yard shooting

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Monday the 16th of September represents more tragedy for the United States of America. Aaron Alexis, a 34-year-old Buddhist who was working at the Washington Navy Yard as an IT specialist for defense contractor, The Experts, shot and killed 13 people in yet another mass shooting. The young man was shot and killed himself by police officers.

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Aaron Alexis is reported as having a history of violent behaviour. He had been arrested in Seattle in 2004 for shooting out the tires of a man’s car in what he described as “a rage fuelled blackout” and, as well as this, had been arrested for a second time in Fort Worth, Texas after firing a gun through his ceiling in order to silence a noisy neighbour. He carried his gun with him at all times as he was completely convinced that people were attempting to steal his belongings. The Daily Telegraph reports that Alexis suffered from a sleep disorder, paranoia and was hearing voices in his head. On top of all this, he was also dismissed from Navy service in 2011 for a series of misconduct related issues.

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All of this information is freely available on the internet; and yet for some reason the inspiration for this terrible and sad event is supposed to have stemmed from the fact that this troubled young man “had an obsession with violent video games”; playing Resident Evil and Call of Duty for up to 16 hours a day.

A close friend of Aaron Alexis, Mr Oui Suthamwakul from Fort Worth, Texas told The Daily Telegraph:

"He could be in the game all day and all night. I think games might be what pushed him that way. He always had this fear people would steal his stuff so that's why he would carry his gun all the time. He would carry it when he was helping out in the restaurant which scared my customers."

It has not yet been confirmed that Alexis actually played video games beyond this man’s word.

I find it incredibly sad to think that the media are once again blaming video games for a violent incident when clearly these dreadful occurrences were the result of the perpetrator’s mental illness. Had Alexis been given the psychiatric help he needed it’s possible that these events could have been avoided entirely. The Washington Navy Yard shooting has raised questions about how Navy employees are vetted among many official bodies, but to me the main question raised from this incident is about how we treat and what help we offer to the mentally ill in our society.

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