The gun violence prevention movement was rocked in March by the suicides of two students who survived the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas H.S. in Parkland, Florida: 19 year-old graduate Sydney Aiello (the best friend of victim Meadow Pollack) and another student who remains unidentified.
The Journal of Abnormal Psychology (run by the American Psychological Association) published a study that found the rate of adolescents reporting symptoms consistent with major depression jumped 52% between 2005 and 2017. The 2019 National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey reports the number of children and teens who visited emergency rooms because of suicidal thoughts and/or suicide attempts doubled between 2007 and 2015.
Young people in America are dealing with the seeming inevitability of school shootings, the refusal of many parents/adults to do anything to alleviate this violence, survivors’ guilt, and the trauma inflicted by increasingly extreme active shooter drills. Students are also frequently unable to get counseling in their schools by certified mental health professionals.
We can act to address this youth suicide crisis by engaging the young people we know and making it clear we care about their well-being.
Please reach out to the teenagers in your life (family, friends, students, co-workers, etc.) and give them a message along the following lines, personalized to your liking:
I just wanted you to know that I’m very concerned about the violence we are seeing in school shootings across the country. It’s not OK to me that you and your peers are being put at risk by weak gun laws and insufficient mental health support (e.g., a lack of certified counselors). I care about you a great deal and want you to know I am going to work on both these issues—and any others you feel are critical—until we have change that once again makes our schools public sanctuaries for students. I also want to invite you to talk to me if you’re having a hard time and just need someone to listen. I know the daily news of shootings and constant active shooter drills at school can be traumatizing and difficult to deal with (among other problems that young people face). If you’re not comfortable talking to me, I’d be happy to help you find other resources so you get the support you need. You’re important to me and I respect your voice on school safety and other matters that directly affect your generation.
Once you have reached out to one or more teenagers you know, fill out the three fields below and click the orange banner to report taking action!