Mass Shootings – Us Too? Yes, All of Us Too. Our Mental Well-being is Affected
Even though it has not happened at our front door…yet, we read about it, see it on TV, talk about it wherever we are. We empathize, are saddened- even cry out loud. Some among us are even traumatized.
This is not to discount the horror of those victims, their families and friends. Nor to minimize the trauma that the first responders shared in the exercise of their duties. We share other family’s fears that it may happen to them next. No, it is to recognize the pervasive agony that those of us who live it vicariously day in and day out feel, as it is broadcast hourly to our entire society.
“According to Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit organization that continuously tracks gun-related death and injury reports based on official records, there have been 345 mass shootings in America in 2017 alone.” (Morgan Manella, 2017 deemed deadliest year for mass shootings in modern US history, aol.com/article/news)
“Just seven weeks into 2018, there have been eight shootings at US schools that have resulted in injury or death.” (How many US school shootings have there been in 2018 so far? The Guardian)
Cheryl Crabb’s personal story, “When I heard about high school students in Parkland experiencing the ‘boom, boom, boom,’ of gunfire as they huddled under their desks, I instantly found myself transported back to my childhood home in Racine, Wis. Once again, I was a little girl huddled in the corner of my closet behind my hanging clothes.
Now, as I listen to reports in Florida, I’m struck by the responses of survivors. Melissa Falkowski, a teacher at Stoneman Douglas who sheltered 19 kids in a closet during the shooting, afterward said she “felt grateful” to have survived.
In my case, back in the 1970s, it was another gunman. And as I recall the bullet holes and ricochet marks on the walls of the guest bedroom beside mine and in the living room beneath, I, too, realize how lucky my family was — unlike the 17 students [and teachers] killed in Florida, 58 people in Las Vegas and the 26 people gunned down in a Sutherland Springs church, including the pastor’s 14-year-old daughter.” (Cheryl Crabb, Florida shooting reminds that gun violence stays with you for a lifetime | Detroit Free Press Column, 2018)
Sarah Toy , “Clinical psychologist Melanie Greenberg recalls an uneasy patient coming to her Mill Valley, Calif., office a few days after the Las Vegas shooting last month.
“The patient felt frightened and said she did not feel safe. She had no connection to the tragedy that left 58 people dead, but symptoms of trauma were obvious: anxiety, depression, trouble sleeping.”
“Such feelings of fear and loss of control after a mass shooting are not uncommon”, according to Greenberg. “And gun rampages seem to have accelerated in recent years: 2017 has been the most deadly year for mass killings in the U.S. in more than a decade.”
“Especially for people who have gone through trauma in their own life, it can be very triggering. It can provoke people’s feelings of victimization and helplessness,” Greenberg said.
(Sarah Toy, Mass shootings and trauma: In a world that no longer feels safe, how do we cope? Nov. 15, 2017, USA Today)
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