Mass Shootings and the Stress It Adds to Our Daily Lives

Photo by Will Porada

I live in Manhattan and know people who lost loved ones on 9/11.  I will never forget their heartbreak.  I also remember feeling anxious and weepy and jumping at sudden loud sounds in the weeks and months that followed.  That anxiety eventually faded, but never disappeared.

Now it’s back in full force and I’m not alone. A motorcycle backfired in Times Square, sparking panic and chaos as the crowds tried to escape what they thought was an attack by another  shooter.

A new survey by the American Psychological Association shows that more than three quarters (79%) of adults in the United States are stressed by mass shootings, and a third of U.S. adults say that fear of mass shootings stops them from going to certain places and events.

I’m one of those adults. I was asked to go to a movie and my first thought was it’s Saturday night and it will be packed. I remembered the 2012 Aurora, Colorado mass shooting in a movie theater. 

I had the good fortune to come into a windfall and decided to plan a last minute getaway for my birthday.  I initially wanted to go to Laguna Beach to attend an arts festival, but then decided I didn’t want to be somewhere with large groups of people as I thought about the recent shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival.

In light of the mass shootings at Houses of Worship around the country and the world, I try to sit by one of the exits when I attend church. In fact, as soon I reach any location these days I look for the exits.

I go out of my way to avoid walking by city landmarks or crowded intersections such as 34th and 42nd street.

I breathe a sigh of relief when I get home at night and when my loved ones get home at night. So far, we’re still one of the lucky ones.  My heart breaks for the horror and heartbreak of those who have been in the midst of a shooting or lost a loved one in a mass shooting.

Gun violence in our country and world has impacted my behavior. I’m an adult. I can’t even imagine the impact mass shootings are having on our children especially in light of the mass shootings at schools.

When I was growing up, I worried about whether I would like my teachers, how well I would do in my classes and whether I would be part of the “in” crowd.  Today’s children have to worry whether a gunman is going to attack them at school.  That is insane.

Numerous media outlets reported that sales of bulletproof backpacks and bulletproof backpack inserts are soaring. These bulletproof items are now on the back-to-school shopping list along with crayons, glue and notebooks.

Is buying a bulletproof backpack all that we, as adults, can do to protect our nation’s children??? I don’t have the answers. If you do, please let me know.

Helpless and stressed in New York

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