Coping with school shootings

Coping with School Shootings

Sadly, school shootings and mass shootings in American have become commonplace. The terrorists engaging in these horrific practices aren’t people we don’t know. Instead, they are most often people from our own community, people who are feeling disenfranchised, unhappy, and often-times lost. They are most often white males. And they have ready access to terrifying levels of firearms.

There are no easy answers of how to reduce the frequency and death counts associated with school shootings. As you can read below, taking action such as reducing legal firearm sales or increasing access to mental health services will help, but will never be enough on their own. There is no “one-size-fits-all” solution that will help resolve this terrifying problem facing American society.

We have put together a selection of topics and resources related to mass shootings and school shootings below. We hope you find these resources helpful in trying to understand and cope with the intense emotions most people feel after one of these events. Many people experience full-blown post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or have overwhelming feelings of grief and loss. It helps to understand these feelings and symptoms so you can take action to do something to help yourself.

Survivor’s guilt is also a real thing — people feel incredibly guilty and depressed that they somehow managed to live through the event, while a good friend or sibling was not as lucky.

These are sad and tragic times. While I hope that you’ll never need to make use of any of the resources listed below, I hope that if you do you’ll find something useful here… Something to make it a little bit easier to live another day, something that may lift your burden, if even just a little.

School Shootings, Grief, & PTSD

Mass shootings and school shootings come with an extraordinary amount of grief and sense of loss. Those who have experienced it first-hand often suffer from symptoms of PTSD. If you feel overwhelmed by what just happened, take care of yourself and consider talking to a professional if those feelings stop you from living your life for more than a couple of weeks.

The Psychology & Politics of School Shootings

People often ask, “Why did this happen? What can we do to stop things like this from happening again in the future?” The answers are not straightforward or easy, and they would require significant changes be made in our society about what we prioritize and value. If we value people’s mental health and treatment, then we need to expend more resources in providing those kinds of services to those most in need.

Parental Resources for School Shootings

Parents have an especially difficult task in front of them — trying to explain and make sense of a senseless act of violence and hatred. Helping your teen or child cope after a tragic event like this can be challenging, but hopefully these resources can be of some help in how to talk to a child or teen about it.

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John M. Grohol, Psy.D.

Dr. John Grohol is the founder of Psych Central. He is a psychologist, author, researcher, and expert in mental health online, and has been writing about online behavior, mental health and psychology issues since 1995. Dr. Grohol has a Master's degree and doctorate in clinical psychology from Nova Southeastern University. Dr. Grohol sits on the editorial board of the journal Computers in Human Behavior and is a founding board member of the Society for Participatory Medicine. You can learn more about Dr. John Grohol here.

APA Reference
Grohol, J. (2020). Coping with School Shootings. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 27, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 20 Apr 2020 (Originally: 17 May 2019)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 20 Apr 2020
Published on Psych All rights reserved.