The Effects of Gun Violence on the Public

Last year and this year have been very difficult with the pandemic still going on and the recent shootings that have made the news. According to CNN, there have been 147 mass shootings since 2021 began. The shooting in an Indianapolis Fedex on April 15th and the one in Atlanta on March 16th where eight people were killed, are among the more notable shootings of this year. 

All throughout our lives, it is not uncommon to hear about shootings on the news or the radio and it isn’t an easy topic to listen to. Hearing things like this can make the public feel uneasy and weary to go out especially when the news of a shooting is still fresh in your mind. According to Emily Schenkein of publichealth.columbia.edu, “…what the barrage of mass gun violence has done to our sense of security is detrimental—not only to those who have come in direct contact with it, but to those…who have internalized the secondary trauma of mass shootings experienced through television and social media.”

People don’t have to be directly impacted by these shootings to feel impact. According to an APA Stress in America™ Survey, mass shootings are a major cause of stress among Gen Z. “Reaction to coverage of shootings is affected by many factors. Some of these factors…include stress related to our living through a global pandemic for an extended period, concerns over systemic racism and targeting of BIPOC individuals…to name a few,” says OMHS’ school psychologist, Dr. Solomon. 

Many people watch the news to stay informed about current events but seeing so many shootings along with other negative news makes it understandable that people’s mental health could become affected. When discussing how people could possibly cope with the current news cycle, Dr. Solomon broke his response into two approaches, “Preventive and Reactive.”

“My main recommendation for a preventive approach is to limit your consumption of news. Television news programs tend to show dramatic video clips and to show them over and over. That can be traumatizing in and of itself.” He also suggests a more internal preventive way that “focuses within rather than on external factors.” For example, knowing who to talk to that will support you when you are stressed is helpful. He also suggested making time to engage in your hobbies and other activities you enjoy.

The reactive approach he mentioned “are those you use to calm down after you are already stressed.” It is important to realize that you are stressed so that you can focus on how to help yourself. This past year has been full of unfortunate circumstances and events so it is especially important during these difficult times to focus on your mental health and well-being. 

Sources: 

https://www.cnn.com/2021/04/16/us/mass-shootings-45-one-month/index.html

https://www.publichealth.columbia.edu/public-health-now/news/mass-gun-violence-affecting-my-mental-health

https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2018/10/generation-z-stressed

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