Since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012, where 20 children and six adults were killed, there have been approximately 1,600 mass shootings in the United States as of February of 2018, according to The New York Times. In 2018 alone, there were 340 mass shootings in the country, and nearly four months into 2019, there have been approximately 75, according to the Gun Violence Archive.
There’s no denying the physical toll that the lack of gun regulation in the United States brings, but what about the mental toll?
On Monday, Jeremy Richman, the father of one of the victims of the Sandy Hook mass shooting, was found dead after apparently committing suicide in Newtown, Connecticut, according to Buzzfeed News. Richman’s suicide comes in light of two Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting survivors took their own lives just days before. On March 17, Sydney Aiello, a graduate of Stoneman High who was at the school during the shooting, killed herself on March 17. Her mother said she suffered from “survivor’s guilt,” a mental condition which occurs when someone believes they are at fault for surviving a traumatic event and had been diagnosed with PTSD. On March 23, a 17-year-old Stoneman sophomore who had also been at the school when the shooting occurred, killed himself just one day after Aiello’s funeral.
Activist and survivor of the Stoneman High School shooting, David Hogg, tweeted on March 24 saying that people should stop telling survivors, “‘you’ll get over it’” when they are healing from a tragedy. “You don’t get over something that should have never happened because those that die from gun violence are stolen from us, not naturally lost,” he tweeted. “Trauma and loss don’t just go away, you have to learn to live with it through getting support.”
The loss of these three individuals perfectly showcases how the effects of gun violence go far beyond physical healing. Lack of gun regulation in the United States has led to thousands of completely unnecessary and preventable deaths, but sometimes those deaths don’t happen the day of the shooting. The deaths of Richman, Aiello and the 17-year-old sophomore are seen as just collateral damage disguised as “the right of the people to keep and bear arms.”
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