A high level of intolerance is noticeable in Croatia on social networks and in the media, a specialist in public health, Dr. Danijela Stimac Grbic, said commenting on Monday morning's wounding of a police officer in Zagreb and the subsequent suicide of the shooter, 22-year-old Danijel Bezuk.
“The thing that is very important is the type of public discourse we have. What level of communication are we using on social networks and in the media? In Croatia that is fairly low and a great intolerance is noticeable,” the head of the Mental Health and Addiction Prevention Department at the Croatian Institute for Public Health, Dr. Stimac Grbic said, commenting on the fact that Bezuk used the Internet and Facebook to posted various things – from songs and photographs to weapons as well as anti-Serb comments.
The level of social disintegration, intolerance and mistrust is great and it is necessary to work a lot harder in public discourse with regard to tolerance, she added.
Bezuk posted on his Facebook profile earlier today “Enough of deceit and ruthless trampling on human values without any accountability.” Bezuk has been using social networks since 2009, judging by the first public post on his Facebook profile, which has since been removed.
In those early years Bezuk posted songs by singers Marko Perkovic Thompson, Miroslav Skoro and Mato Miso Kovac but also videos of testing sniper rifles and heavy machine guns.
In 2011 while he was still in elementary school, below one of the videos of testing a sniper rifle, he wrote “Wish I was one of them so I can take out Serbs,” which supports Stimac Grbic’s theory of intolerance.
In order to fix intolerance, Stimac Grbic underlined, it is necessary to learn communication skills at a very early age, starting in the family, as well as introduce content in the school curriculum related to social and emotional learning and how to resolve problems and increase empathy.
“Recent events in Croatia, and this isn’t the first, indicate the some people who resort to violence are in fact proclaimed as heroes, that their act is seen as some sort of resistance to repression, as taking justice into one’s own hands,” Stimac Grbic claimed.
Bezak’s last post has received a large number of comments, some of them being positive.
Young people posted “Rest in Peace,” “He did this for all of Croatia,” “You have done more and sent a clearer message than all of Croatia together,” “It’s sad that he didn’t wipe out ‘someone who deserved it’.” There were also some negative comments like “All those who support him should be shot with four rounds from a Kalashnikov, then we’ll see what kind of hero he is.”
Social networks attract people with the same ideas. That’s their point, and it seems that approval from society is being sought, Stimac Grbic said.
However, the essence of the problem is not necessarily social media because we cannot know what influence social media in fact had on Bezuk, she added.
“Internet does not kill. Weapons kill,” she added and warned that it is necessary to focus on how Bezuk managed to obtain his weapon.
Considering that he committed suicide, Stimac Grbic assessed that he probably suffered from some mental disorder which should have been identified and treated on time.