Essay Sample on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Surviving a School Shooting

Published: 2023-03-16
Essay Sample on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Surviving a School Shooting
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Gun violence Post traumatic stress disorder
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1501 words
13 min read

"Parkland: Birth of a Movement" by author Dave Cullen carves out a macabre niche as the nation's premier chronicler of mass school shootings, he does an excellent job recounting the story of survival in this book. Cullen is an acclaimed, New York Times bestselling author of Columbine. America has become a country that is riddled by the degree of bloodshed in learning institutions. A lot of attention is given to the victims of the shootings, but what about the survivors? Those who experienced every minute of the traumatic experience and came out alive? Through his book, Cullen reveals the tale of Parkland through the voices of significant participants whose different outlooks involve every aspect of the movement. There are strains of sadness in this story, but it is not the primary purpose of the account, the participants chose a story full of hope. It is not a narration of the tragedy that struck Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14, 2018; instead it is an account of the accomplishments of the student activists in the following year and how they did it.

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The United States is a country filled with gun violence cases. Cullen explains how school shootings changed Parkland. The Shooter reportedly shot fourteen students and three instructors at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida on February 14, 2018. Cullen explains that this was the eighth mass shooting that year. However, days afterward, teenage survivors became activists and inspired millions of Americans to participate in their grassroots #neveragain movement. The author was shocked and amazed by the anger, courage, and conviction of the high school students (Cullen 40). They refused to permit adults and the media to influence their narrative. The teenagers took control, utilizing their sorrow as a catalyst for transformation, changing tragedy into a movement of hope that has united a country.

The survivors of school shootings come from almost every race, socioeconomic context, and belief. A place like Parkland, Florida, and Aurora, Colorado, will remain engraved in people's minds. Nearly a year after the massacre at Douglas High school, two survivors of the ordeal took their own lives in March of 2019 in one week(Patricia). The suicide of two young survivors of the 2018 school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland has raised the questions of the interplay and effect of survivor guilt, traumatic bereavement, and post-traumatic disorder among survivors and victims' precious ones after shocking occasions. School-shooting survivors and the victims' families tend to have difficult times in the days around the anniversary of the tragedy for years afterward. One of the best forecasters of a positive mental-welling result after a shooting is social support for the survivors and families of the victims (Beckett). People have excellent social support and illustrate strong feelings of social solidarity after the trauma, which do not have a past of mental-health issues or other distressing encounters, have high chances of being resilient.

Numerous survivors of mass shootings continue to discover perseverance through activism against gun violence. Multiple Parkland survivors have petitioned state and federal administrations for gun-law reform. Besides, Jeremy Richman, the parent of a 6-year old who succumbed to the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, initiated the Avielle Foundation, a violence-aversion nonprofit named after his daughter after her death (The Avielle Foundation). Many survivors exhibit resilience. However, others, especially those who though their lives or their loved ones were at risk or those who lack social support-encounter continuous psychological health issues with the inclusion of post-traumatic stress, anxiety, substance abuse, and depression. It is estimated that 28% of individuals who have experienced a mass shooting develop post-traumatic stress disorder (Bockler, 60).

One issue that forecasts how well mass shooting victims will fare later is their immediacy to the occurrence. Those people who get injured in the shooting, those who see their friend get shot, and those who perceive that their own lives are in risk are at much more significant risk for long-lasting PTSD signs and other psychological health repercussions than survivors who may be hiding at a nearby location or farther from the occurrence(American Academy ,936). Survivors' coping approaches and support frameworks are also influential forecasters of their long-standing health and wellbeing. According to Bockler (77), Individuals who participate in self-responsibility for the disaster-believing they ought to have done more to attempt and save colleagues who died or at more significant risk for long-lasting poor mental consequences.

The Parkland school shooting survivors initiated the 'March for Our Lives' movement, which became one of the biggest rallies in American history. Emma Gonzalez gave a brief speech and instilled hope. Cullen recounts of the young activists' efforts to amplify their voices on school shootings and the unbearable emotional toll of the shooting on them mentally and psychologically. For school shootings survivors such as those from Douglas High school, it becomes a struggle to barely walk through the school halls and feel safe enough to concentrate on school work. The effect of such massacres extends far beyond the directly impacted school and community. Apart from the affected school, students from other neighboring schools suffer the ripple effect of such shooting; there is constant fear that their school could be next.

Survival after school shootings can destructively affect students throughout the rest of their lives. However, community reactions to school shootings can assist in mitigating the effect of ASD and PTSD on young people; schools themselves are progressively a basis of anxiety for both students and the instructors. School shootings are direct distressing occurrences that can possibly stimulate PTSD in openly vulnerable individuals. Students are more susceptible; childhood trauma has more long-term and pervasive impacts on young people (Wilson 67). On a secondary level, the danger of mass shootings in schools is detrimental to the psychological health of the child. Security and safety are often crucial to a child's healthy mental growth, and this continuous stress and a feeling of threat are bound to interrupt the perceptiveness of protection and put the students in danger of developing nervousness and temper conditions.

As Cullen notes, parents played no role in Parkland's children's organization, other than providing role-suitable demands for chaperones, psychological health counseling, and sleep. Many students experience the post-traumatic disorder in varying ways. PTSD is characterized by re-experiencing the ordeal, arousal symptoms, and memory disturbance. Some will experience amnesia from the magnitude of the occurrence and those who suffer from the vivid recollection of the traumatic events through nightmares and intrusive thoughts (American Psychiatric Association, 55). Trauma during childhood and is more likely to lead to future disorders by being permanently etched into the individual's mental maturation and development depending on the nature and pattern of traumatic events.

Additionally, post-traumatic disorders on development can go beyond adolescence into adulthood. In such cases, time does not heal as we often wish to believe, but rather, school shooting trauma for students increases the risk towards later psychological and mental disorders. Thorough recollection and re-experiencing traumatic events, the mental health of the survivors is severely impaired and may lead to survivor's guilt and suicidal thoughts.

The presentation and course of Post-traumatic disorder symptoms depend on how far the survivor has progressed along their developmental arc. Furthermore, post-traumatic disorders associated with school shootings may co-exist with other disorders such as grief reactions, depression, and behavior problems making it even severe for the survivor. The magnitude of the traumatic event is harsh on the survivors depending on the vulnerability and brutality of the whole event. School shooting survivors are incredibly vulnerable to this kind of disorder, and therefore after such massacres, they must be given as much mental healthcare as possible to help cope.

Conclusively, Cullen explains about the Parkland, Florida shooting and how children responded confidently. He describes how the shooter killed fourteen students and three educators at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. With time, young, traumatized victims were spurring their grief and outrage into action. Social media was ablaze with demands for gun regulation, and the country listened. After the occurrence, the student galvanized national school walkouts, a march on Washington, and television debates with senators. Many survivors of school shootings continue to understand perseverance through activism against gun violence. The Parkland school shooting survivors started a movement that became one of the most massive rallies in American history. One of the best forecasters of positive psychological wellbeing occurs a shooting is social support for survivors and families of the victims.

Works Cited

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (1991) Elsevier Inc. Internet Source American Psychiatric Association (1987) Internet Source

Beckett, Lois. Parkland by Dave Cullen review - the shooting that led to change. (2019, March 1) Accessed November 1, 2019

Bockler, Nils. School Shootings: International Research, Case Studies, and Concepts for Prevention. New York: Springer, 2013. Internet resource.

Cullen, Dave. Parkland: Birth of a Movement. [New York] : HarperCollins. 2019. Internet resource.

Gold, Liza H, and Robert I. Simon. Gun Violence and Mental Illness. Arlington, Virginia: American Psychiatric Association Publishing. 2016. Internet resource.

Wilson, Laura. The Wiley Handbook of the Psychology of Mass Shootings. Chichester, West Sussex, England: Wiley Blackwell. 2017. Internet resource.

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