Giving Compass’ Take:
• In light of the recent suicides by individuals coping with mass shooting trauma, RAND offers some prevention strategies that go beyond addressing initial trauma.
• How can donors help implement support systems in schools that drive suicide prevention strategies?
• Read more about lasting grief after a mass shooting.
In late March, the father of a victim of the Sandy Hook Elementary mass shooting in 2012 and two survivors of last year’s massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High died, all by suicide.
Initial screening and counseling are common after a shooting, support that is critical but not sufficient. Federal crisis counseling grants focus on the nine months following a disaster, but research shows that the mental health needs for a significant minority of survivors continue for months or even years.
Research on adolescent disaster survivors has shown that post-traumatic stress disorder follows a complex course and symptoms can be delayed or return years after an event. Anniversaries of traumatic events can also trigger symptoms.
It cannot be said enough: Many suicides are preventable.
If society wants to prevent suicide, then those known to be at risk need better care and more individuals at-risk need to be identified so they could benefit from suicide-prevention services.
In addition, safer environments could be created (PDF) by having mental health professionals and doctors work with at-risk individuals to make a safety plan to temporarily remove guns and other means (such as drugs) that people might use to die by suicide. Identifying those at risk and getting them the proper care is also key for those not already receiving care. Media campaigns are frequently used to communicate the risk factors and warning signs that someone may be at-risk for suicide and need care—in an effort to reach family or friends who can reach out and encourage those at-risk to get help.
Read the full article about preventing suicide by treating mass shooting trauma by Joie D. Acosta and Lisa H. Jaycox at RAND
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