The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

Seawolves share how school shootings affect mental health

School isn’t always a safe place. Many of us began to understand this concept at a young age. We took part in active shooting drills at school that attempt to prepare us for the worst case scenario. Not only did we take part in these drills, but we were exposed to mass shootings reported in the media.

Alex Gonzalez, who is a fourth year communications student, stated that he first became fully conscious of school shootings when the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting happened in 2012. 

While there had been other school shootings that gained national attention such as the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007 and the Columbine High School shooting in 1999, according to a journal published by Disaster Health, Sandy Hook shocked the nation due to the victims being so young.  

“I was first exposed to the concept of school shootings when I was five and in Kindergarten…I remember not being able to go to class because the school was on lockdown,” stated Willow Ornellas, fourth year communications student. 

Ornellas said her elementary school was on lockdown because a mentally ill old woman came to campus with a gun. 

While students may not have encountered an active shooter directly, school shootings in the last decade have left an impact on our minds, making us live in constant fear of it happening to us.

Harlow Valez, a first year business management student, stated that they started experiencing anxiety in elementary school, fearing that someone might come to campus with a gun. 

Kira Riehm, who is a behavioral health research scientist, explained to TIME magazine that  children can still experience anxiety from school shootings even if they weren’t involved. 

“These events are extremely high profile and they are portrayed hughley in the media,” said Riehm to TIME magazine. 

Valez stated there is no doubt that hearing about school shootings have affected them “The crippling anxiety school shootings have made me, and many friends I know, develop has entirely altered the trajectory of our lives.” 

While it is normal to think about safety in public areas, it is not healthy to live life in constant fear.

“I remember me and all my friends had escape plans from every room in every building and signals in case anything were to have happened. I still have to selectively pick my seat in each class I have now because of the fear. I hate going to grocery stores or theaters or amusement parks, anywhere with big crowds,” said Valez.  

The fear Valez mentioned can range from moderate to severe. Some students say that mass school shootings haven’t made a huge impact on them.

“It hasn’t really affected me much in my life, but it’s made me more cautious…whenever I go places, the concern in the back of my head is that I can be in the wrong place at the wrong time,” stated Gonzalez. 

School shootings may not have a big impact on his life however, the what if’s linger in his mind. 

“I think collectively the nation is extremely traumatized…living in a constant state of fear, I don’t know what can be done to remedy it and that’s horrifying,” stated Ornellas.

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