Mass school shooting has become a national nightmare, and it seems to have no end. Statistics from the Center for Homeland Defense and Security showed 11 separate school shootings in 2019. The body counts have risen even more significantly in the past few years.
The incident that took place in Bellaire High School last January 2020 resulted in the first U.S. school shooting fatality this year, but it was already the fifth shooting for 2020.
Whether you’re a parent, coach, teacher or relative, it’s hard not to wonder how school shootings affect children attending school.
Impact of mass school shootings on mental health
Trauma is the emotional shock people have following emotionally disturbing experiences. While some people who experience trauma continue to live their lives without lasting negative effects, others experience mental and/or substance use disorders as an adult.
The threat of mass shooting can negatively affect the mental health of survivors and even onlookers. It is common for those affected to have increased anxiety, hyper vigilance, uneasiness, difficulty sleeping, and nightmares. The constant anxiety can disrupt their sense of danger, putting them at risk of developing anxiety disorder.
The lingering trauma of school shootings
The shooting may have ended, but the effect of that horrific incident to the family and friends of the victims as well as those who were at the scene might linger for far longer. These experiences often elicit fear and anxiety that can sometimes last for decades. It may also cause a person to develop mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression.
In March 2019, two students committed suicide one year after the shooting incident at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. One student killed herself with a gunshot wound to the head. According to her family, classrooms scared her and she had survivor’s guilt following the death of her friend in the shooting.
Sadly, school shootings aren’t just affecting survivors. It is also creating an entire generation of anxious children who are growing in the shadow of mass school shootings and lockdown drills.