School Shootings: The Columbine Generation Copes
A Columbine survivor speaks out about shool shootings and their impact on youths.
After a School Shooting
Jones has three pieces of advice for people dealing with vicarious traumatization after a school shooting:
Don't watch too much of the TV coverage. "As they're playing it over and over and over again, [don't] expose yourself to it," says Jones. Poland agrees. "When I was at school a very long time ago I would have to read a newspaper ... it wouldn't be front and center on television," he says. "Frankly, I generally avoid the coverage. ... I'm not going to be turning it on because it's very upsetting."
If you're having trouble, get help. "Reach out to friends and family members, talk about your feelings and your thoughts. This kind of thing can be very helpful," says Jones.
Don't let stigma stop you from getting help. Jones says he hopes stigma about mental health will decrease. "There's a lot of science behind helping people following traumatic events, and it's our hope they will reach out for that help and lead fruitful and productive lives," says Jones.
Experts recommend that parents talk to children about violence and safety, but that conversation is "very different" when the child is a college-aged young adult, says Tolan.
"The older the child, the more you want to talk about what's the meaning of this [event], what would they do, and how they want to think about this being a part of the society they live in," says Tolan.
Columbine Survivor's Advice
Lindholm has some recommendations for people who have just been through a school shooting:
"The best advice I can give them is not to isolate themselves. And that is exactly the thing you want to do. You don't want to talk about it to your parents. You don't want to talk about it to your family. And you really don't want to talk about it to your friends because you kind of feel like they have no clue what you're going through."
She also encourages school shooting survivors to show each other compassion. "I know there [are] cliques and there always will be, but if they could just be accepting for right now and make sure nobody's alone, even the weird kid that sits in the corner. You know, you have to watch out for everyone right now."