Thursday, November 08, 2007

Pekka-Eric Auvinen - not so special

I posted last night that much of the international media has claimed that Finland is virtually a stranger to violent crime, and therefore Pekka-Eric Auvinen's shooting rampage is something of a freak occurrence. It's not. Finland is a very safe place to live as there is very little random violence aimed at strangers; so as long as you pick your friends and family sensibly, it is safe. But get those latter factors wrong, and you actually face much higher chances of being a victim of violence - particularly gun crime - than you do in the UK for example.

In the time that I have lived in Finland there have been two other attacks by crazed individuals that have resulted in multiple deaths:
Additionally a mentally ill man killed another passanger on the Helsinki metro with an axe in 2004; you wonder whether he would have killed more if he had had access to a pistol like Auvinen. A similar random murder happened this summer when a mentally ill man in Porvoo, a little east of Helsinki, murdered a Dutch tourist with a knife.

The multiple, random killings get more media attention but there have also been too numerous cases of multiple killing in families, where a parent kills their children and partner first, then commits suicide. When it is the father, guns have often been involved. The other common situation is for one friend to kill another, normally after heavy drinking. I remember reading somewhere that the standard profile of both Finnish murderers and victims are middle-aged, divorced men who abuse alcohol.

I feel far more at ease walking in Helsinki late at night than I do in many British towns and cities, but that isn't because overall Finland is safer, but rather because crime has a different profile here. The Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Finnish Tourist Board can be proud today that the rest of the world seems so shocked. Their image of Finland as a cosy, homely, northern nirvana has clearly been received.

Other related mutterings of mine on this subject here, here, here and here.


kissa said...

I have just found your blog. I will revisit often as I have a long and affectionate relationship with Finland. So sad that the news from there to the rest of the world is of this disturbed young man. I walked Helsinki late at night in late August and felt totally unthreatened so very different from some cities in the UK. Sad but true.

Anonymous said...

And I thought that we moved from busy Geneva to the quiet (and safe) village.

I usually run past the school building and if I'm not working, I do it around noon. Luckily I was working yesterday.

Juki from Jokela

Anonymous said...

Oh, you forgot the 18-year old who killed his two little sisters a few weeks ago.