Kids Directly Exposed to School Shootings More at Risk for PTSD

The recent school shooting outside Cleveland has left many students traumatized after three students were killed and two others were injured, according to a recent news article. Even if a student was not physically injured in the mayhem, they still may suffer the psychological scars of grief and guilt.

Experts in the mental health field say the repercussions of such a trauma can last for months and even years if left untreated. Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a disorder commonly associated with war veterans but is actually also a mental health state that is caused by a traumatizing or terrifying event.

PTSD symptoms interfere with your daily life by causing flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety, trouble concentrating or sleeping and even physical pain.

Dr. Melissa Brymer, at the National Center for Child Traumatic Stress says children need to hear the message that there are programs and treatment for these symptoms. Brymer studied the incidents of PTSD after the 2007 incident at Virginia Tech and also the school shootings in Southern California in 2001.

Research showed that a certain quantity of stress or anxiety following this type of event is expected and normal. Students may have trouble sleeping and wrestle with the guilt of surviving or wondering if they could have prevented it.

Brymer discovered that with the California incident there were preceding threats and about 40 students did have information about them beforehand. In that case, those students needed extra treatment and support.

Not everyone that has been through school shootings will develop PTSD but rather the children who are directly exposed that are the most at risk.

According to her study, almost a fourth of the students that were directly exposed to the shootings suffered some amount of PTSD symptoms nine months after.