Impact of mass shootings on mental health

Hailey Steidle, Staff writer

The issue with mass shootings that the United States has been facing is more than just a crisis at this point; it is a full-blown pandemic.

There have been over 162 mass shooting in the US in 2023 as of April 17, with only 112 days (about 3 and a half months) in the year as of this writing.

The fact that there have been more mass shootings than days of the year so far is extremely concerning, and a study recently published by CNN further confirms this.

Following the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas last May that claimed the lives of nineteen students and two teachers, a mental health crisis line received a spike in messages that referenced guns and other related firearm-related terms, according to a study funded by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Although the study did not track the specific location of the messages coming in, Crisis Text Line – a nonprofit organization offering free confidential crisis intervention – serves people nationwide.

This all comes in the wake of several high-profile mass shootings that have occurred over the past few weeks, including at a school in Nashville that killed three students and three staff, a

bank in Louisville that killed five individuals and a 16th birthday party in Dadeville, Alabama, that killed four young adults, including three teenagers.

“We know that exposure through the media–which can happen across many different outlets, with the swipe of a finger or a ding on your phone–to some type of traumatic event can result in someone experiencing an acute stress reaction and can trigger underlying post-traumatic stress they may have from something else,” said Leah Brogan, a psychologist who works at both the Center for Violence Prevention and the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

The study that CNN released also discusses that according to a survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation, 1 in 5 adults has had a family member killed by a gun, including in homicide and suicide, and about 1 in 6 has witnessed an injury from a gun.

This is especially important to know considering the shootings that have happened in just the past week for seemingly innocent reasons.

In Kansas City, 16-year-old Ralph Yarl barely survived after being shot twice following accidentally ringing the wrong doorbell while trying to pick up his younger siblings.

In Texas, several cheerleaders were shot at after accidentally getting into the wrong car following a grocery run.

A 20-year-old woman in upstate New York was killed after pulling into a driveway in an attempt to find directions after get- ting lost.

A 6-year-old girl and her parents were shot at in North Carolina when her basketball accidentally rolled into a neighbor’s lawn.

Most recently, a Florida couple delivering an Instacart order was shot at when they accidentally delivered to the wrong address.

The study has opened up a lot of eyes as to what needs improvement in the United States when it comes to mass shootings.

Hopefully, studies like these can continue being published so that we can learn from them and create reform.

It can be anxiety-inducing for many people to hear about mass shootings, particularly those who work or study in those environments that have been susceptible to shootings previously.

If you find yourself facing feelings of depression or anxiety about this, consider setting up an appointment at the Counseling Center.