Study: Students Struggle with Mental Health Problems for Years After School Shootings

For two years after a campus shooting, students increase their antidepressant use by more than 21%.

Study: Students Struggle with Mental Health Problems for Years After School Shootings

School shootings negatively affect the mental health of student survivors for years after an attack, according to a report released last week by Stanford University researchers.

The study found that youths who attended a school where a shooting happened increased their use of antidepressants by more than 21% for two years after the shooting, reports KPIX.

The study, released Dec. 16, is the largest study to date on the effects of school shootings on student mental health and was published by the National Bureau of Economic Research. The study examined the effects of 44 school shootings from 2008 to 2013.

According to the researchers, more than 240,000 American students have experienced a shooting in the past two decades.

Previously, an article that ran in October in Politico outlined the quantifiable, devastating effects the 2018 mass shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and Santa Fe (Texas) High School have had on the students who survived at those schools, as well as their districts.

Test scores have dropped, and substance abuse and mental health issues have increased as a direct result of these tragedies. These effects were revealed in several federal Project SERV applications from the school districts.

  • 60% of all Santa Fe High School students had visited with a trauma counselor by the end of the school year that followed the campus’ mass shooting
  • Marjory Stoneman Douglas experienced a 78% increase in requests for additional support related to mental, physical and behavioral problems
  • At Parkland, the campus substance abuse incident ranking in the county jumped up 20 places. It formerly ranked near the bottom of high schools with substance abuse issues in the county.
  • Marjory Stoneman Douglas experienced a “dramatic decrease” in students passing English and algebra assessments
  • In the district where Parkland is located:
    • Drug use or possession increased from 511 incidents in 2017 to 637 in 2018
    • “Other major offenses” rose from 317 to 367
    • Physical attacks increased from 34 to 128
    • Threats and intimidation increased from 337 to 368
    • Tobacco offenses increased from 127 to 439

Additionally, there are 200 fewer students enrolled in the Santa Fe ISD this year compared to last year. Half of the loss of students comes from Santa Fe High School where the mass shooting took place.

About the Author

Robin Hattersley Gray
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Robin has been covering the security and campus law enforcement industries since 1998 and is a specialist in school, university and hospital security, public safety and emergency management, as well as emerging technologies and systems integration. She joined CS in 2005 and has authored award-winning editorial on campus law enforcement and security funding, officer recruitment and retention, access control, IP video, network integration, event management, crime trends, the Clery Act, Title IX compliance, sexual assault, dating abuse, emergency communications, incident management software and more. Robin has been featured on national and local media outlets and was formerly associate editor for the trade publication Security Sales & Integration. She obtained her undergraduate degree in history from California State University, Long Beach.

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