A few months ago, I wrote a little about the absolute heartbreak that I felt when the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary school happened. As a someone who has experienced firsthand this sort of shooting, I couldn’t help but think, “OF COURSE,” when I ran across this article, “Newtown Children Remain Scared As School Tries To Move On From Sandy Hook Shooting.” While I’m rarely ever a fan of the Huffington Post, the writer of this article did her due diligence and was incredibly thorough in her research and description of some of the lasting effects that such a tragic, traumatic event can have on its survivors. I wasn’t in a classroom when it happened and I didn’t experience or hear gunshots ring out whatsoever, but I still get nervous when I hear a balloon pop, loud noises sometimes tear my nerves to bits, and I always keep an eye on the exits when I go to movie theaters (which I usually avoid) or lectures.
I was 21 years old when a mass shooting unfolded in my world, and it has been almost six years since the anniversary of the shooting that tore my university to pieces and took the lives of thirty two people with it. I cannot explain my own healing process any better than saying that time (eventually) heals all wounds, though it is a treatment that in these cases is required in mass quantities. When I think about elementary school students suffering from the same symptoms and anxiety that I did, though, my heart absolutely breaks for them, for their teachers, for the parents, and for their community all over again. If ever you need a reminder of why we should do everything in our power to prevent mass tragedies of this kind, I suggest reading the article and thinking of the lives that will never, ever be the same again after that horrific day in December.
“Survivors of such shootings can experience nightmares, flashbacks, hyper-vigilance in which they are constantly on the lookout for danger and startled responses, said Russell Jones, a psychology professor at Virginia Tech who counseled survivors of a mass shooting at his school. Between 8 to 15 percent of those who experience traumas such as mass shootings develop PTSD, but about half of them no longer have the symptoms after three months, he said.Sounds and smells associated with mass shootings can bring back memories of the horror, said Carolyn Mears, author of the book “Reclaiming School in the Aftermath of Trauma.”