Mass shootings and the long-lasting impacts they have on witnesses – let our experts help you understand more.June 4, 20192 min read
They are incidents that are now more common than a lot of people want to admit – and research is showing that mass shootings are taking a serious psychological toll on our country’s population.
UMW’s Laura Wilson’s research was recently cited in media throughout the country for her work analyzing PTSD and its affects on witnesses to these events.
“PTSD estimates 28 percent of people who have witnessed a mass shooting develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and about a third develop acute stress disorder.
Laura Wilson, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Mary Washington in Virginia conducted a meta-analysis — an examination of data from 11 studies of PTSD symptoms among more than 8,000 participants who ranged from those who'd witnessed shootings to those who just lived in the communities in a 20-year period. She found the greater the exposure — someone who was at the scene or who lost a friend or family — the greater risk of developing PTSD. But, in her work, Wilson has found other factors, too, including previous psychological symptoms and a lack of social support, also played a role in increasing the likelihood.
"Mass shootings are a different type of trauma," Wilson says. "People are confronted with the idea that bad things can happen to good people. ... Most people have a hard time reconciling the idea that a young, innocent person made the good decision to go to school, was sitting there, learning and was murdered. That does not make sense to us. ... It just rattles us to our core."
And yet, some people don't fully appreciate the lasting psychological wounds of those who escaped physical harm.” June 02, Associated Press
Are you covering this topic, or would you like to know more? That’s where UMW can help. Laura C. Wilson is a clinical psychologist whose expertise focuses on post-trauma functioning, particularly in survivors of sexual violence or mass trauma (e.g., terrorism, mass shootings, combat). Dr. Wilson is available to discuss this topic with media – simply click on her icon to arrange an interview.
Laura Wilson Assistant Professor and Director of Safe Zone
Dr. Wilson focuses on post-trauma functioning, particularly in survivors of sexual violence or mass trauma