The Impact of Mass Shootings On Mental Health
There were 417 mass shootings in 2019 in the United States. 4,545 lives
taken in just 2020 from gun violence. There are parents, grandparents, siblings, and
friends all missing something. Someone. Someone who should still be here. Mass
shootings are not becoming any less common. But the devastation of a person losing
their right to life is not the only result of these mass shootings.
Mass shootings leave a permanent scar on the victims’ family and friends, making it
hard for them to continue with their life, especially those who were present during the
shooting and managed to survive. The National Center for PTSD has estimated that “28
percent of people who have witnessed a mass shooting develop post-traumatic stress
disorder and about a third develop acute stress disorder. 80% of people with PTSD later
develop and experience depression.”
There have been multiple cases of mass shooting survivors dealing with survivor’s guilt.
According to MedicalNewsToday, “Survivors may question why they escaped death
while others lost their lives. They may also wonder whether there was something that
they could have done to prevent the traumatic event or preserve life.” In 2016, there
was what is known as the “Pulse Nightclub Shooting” which occurred in Orlando,
Florida. One of the survivors, Patience Carter, said the following in a poem she wrote.
“The guilt of being grateful to be alive is heavy... It may color your actions, what you
might do moving forward for yourself because you’re sitting there thinking, ‘I don’t
deserve to be alive’’’. Survivors guilt has even led to suicide. Sydney Aiello had been
close friends with one of the Parkland Shooting victims, Meadow Pollack. Sydney
unfortunately took her life. Another survivor of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas tragedy,
whose name was not released, also passed away from an apparent suicide. And finally,
a father named Jeremy Richman who lost his daughter Avielle, a first grader, in the
Sandy Hook Elementary School Massacre in Connecticut. Jeremy Richman was found
dead, the suspected cause being suicide.
Although mass shootings are terrible tragedies, they’ve inspired people to speak up.
Survivors of mass shootings and even parents of the victims have converted
themselves into activists. Both Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg are survivors of the
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Shooting. They’re part of the March for Our
Lives student-led organization which supports the legislation to prevent gun violence in
the United States. March for Our Lives was, “Created by survivors, so you don’t have to
be one.” The reason it’s important that we focus on the survivors of mass shootings and
the families directly affected is because they’re the only ones left. They’re the ones who
know the reality of mass shootings. They experienced the unbelievable suffering that
many will never understand. They are vehement about this topic and refuse to let this
pain continue. “Everybody needs to understand how we feel and what we went through,
because if they don’t, they’re not going to be able to understand why we’re fighting for
what we’re fighting for.” -Emma Gonzalez, a senior from Marjory Stoneman Douglas.
Written by Raisa Carrillo, 14