The brutally long-lasting impact of school shootings

Candlelight vigil for the Parkland shooting. (via CNN)

Courtney McDonald | Student Life Editor

March 29, 2019

Not long ago, the most a student had to worry about was getting to class on time and finishing their homework. The same cannot be said today.

The amount of school shootings has skyrocketed beyond belief. Students now fear for their lives at school, praying that they won’t be next. This is no way to live, where even young children have begun to question their safety.

Although these events appear to have no effect on laws or lawmakers and their decisions, school shootings are a traumatizing incident for any and everyone involved. Most people are aware of the lives that have been ripped away as a result of these massacres, but many tend to forget those who have survived.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and survivors guilt plague the surviving victims, forcing them to relive the event over and over again. These conditions condemn them to a life of terror and therapy. And unfortunately, not every survivor is able to battle the inner demons that stay with them in the years after the shooting.

In the past three weeks, 3 people have taken their lives as a result of the horrible demons that school shootings have left them. Two of these people are linked to the Parkland shooting (February 14th, 2018), and the third is a man linked to the Sandy Hook shooting (December 14th, 2012).

The first of the three was Sydney Aiello, a graduate of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Aiello’s close friend, Meadow Pollack, was one of the 17 people murdered in the Parkland shooting. PTSD and survivor’s guilt took over Aiello and her life. Although she was grateful to have survived such a horrific event, she couldn’t come to terms with “why” Pollack lost her life and why she was the one to survive. She took her own life the weekend of the 23rd and 24th.

Another student from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School died in an apparent suicide about a week after Aiello’s death. The student’s detailed were left unidentified by police, but people are also considering the suicide a result of PTSD and survivor’s guilt.

The third death occurred on Monday. Jeremy Richman, the father of one of the 20 first-graders brutally killed in the Sandy Hook shooting, took his own life on the Monday, March 25th. As the third suicide related to school shootings, it has placed the spotlight on the struggles that survivors of shootings have to go through.

It’s a difficult concept, as there really isn’t any reasonable explanation. Due to that unanswerable nature, victims suffering from survivor’s guilt can spiral out of control and end up drowning in guilt.

But these victims need to understand that it isn’t, and never was, their fault. While PTSD is a commonly known result of traumatic event, survivor’s guilt is lesser known and almost less understood. For those of us who haven’t experienced such a thing, we need to offer up our support to try and help these victims through these dark thoughts.

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