Mass shootings in the US have a ripple effect on the country's mental health

As mass shootings become more common, the mental health of the nation suffers.

Mass shootings in the US have a ripple effect on the country's mental health


There is evidence that gun violence in America has a negative impact on mental health. This includes Dadeville, Alabama where four people died and 28 were injured during a Sweet 16 Birthday Party over the weekend.

According to research published in this year, the effects of mass shootings on mental health can extend far beyond the survivors or community that is directly affected. They may affect a much wider population.

According to a study by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of messages mentioning guns and firearms increased in the days following a May school shooting in Uvalde. The study didn't track the exact location of the messages, but Crisis Text Line is a nonprofit offering confidential crisis intervention to people across the country.

At least 162 mass shootings were reported in the US in 2023, a record number. Gun Violence Archive reports that it has been one week since a deadly mass shooting in a Louisville, Kentucky bank. Since then, there have been over a dozen other incidents.

Indirect impacts are also regularly experienced by the public due to the frequency of the devastating events.

We know that media exposure to a traumatic event - which could happen through many outlets with a swipe of the finger or a sound on your phone – can cause an acute reaction and trigger post-traumatic symptoms.

"So, it's clear that exposure to constant stimuli can escalate and activate people even if they haven't experienced anything directly."

In a recent survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation, it was found that gun violence has affected the majority of families in the US. A recent survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that gun violence has affected most families in the US in some way.

Brogan is a trauma therapist who works with youths who are brought to the emergency room after suffering a violent injury. She says that often, under the traumatizing incident that brought the youth to the emergency department, there is a past of traumatizing experiences that have instilled negative feelings related to helplessness, loss of control and predictability.

Many are returning to areas where gun violence, unfortunately, is a fact of life. She said that this reality can be a trigger. "We do a lot to help them understand the reality of their situation and to find out where they can have some control in their lives."

While mass shootings and gun related deaths are reaching record levels in the US a underlying trauma could be building in the wider population, creating the same feelings of helplessness on a national level.

The study found that after the Uvalde shooting, grief became a focal point of a significant share of firearm-related discussions coming into the Crisis Text Line.

The Crisis Text Line's chief health officer, Dr. Shairi T. Turner, said that people are reaching out to establish a sense stability and calm within their lives.

She said that whether they were members of the affected community or simply aware of a tragic event across the country, an immediate connection helped people to find connection and deal with any emotions they might have.

According to the authors of this study, public health interventions that specifically target feelings of grief may help reduce acute psychological crises that occur immediately after mass shootings.

Get help

If you or someone close to you is suffering from suicidal feelings or mental health issues, there is help available.

Contact information for crisis centres around the globe is available from the International Association for Suicide Prevention and Befrienders Worldwide.

The Crisis Text Line is primarily for children and young adults. And the majority of the messages received by the mental health helpline are from people younger than 25.

Experts say that youth are particularly vulnerable to the negative effects of a mass shooter. The CDC has also called attention to this issue.

Turner stated that 'under the age of 20, our brains still develop and we are still formulating our understandings of the world'. Children and young adults begin to form narratives about their safety, that of their homes, schools and communities. This is based on the things they see. Tragedies may make children and young adults believe that the world is unsafe.

Brogan says that the brain of an adolescent is very malleable and children are resilient.

She said, 'I always emphasize that bad things may happen to us but they do not need to define who we are.' It's important to understand that some things are beyond our control and that we will only end up spinning our wheels if we try to control these situations. We can control how we react to the situation.

You can do this by contacting a crisis hotline.

Turner stated that it can take weeks or months to fully process a tragedy. Turner said, 'Reach for support, listen and respect each other's emotions, and limit how much you take in.