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

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