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Mass shooting epidemic takes mental health toll on Metro Atlanta residents

Mass shootings take mental health toll on Metro Atlanta adults, children
Mass shootings take mental health toll on Metro Atlanta adults, children 01:51

ATLANTA (WUPA) – The loss of life and devastation caused by the increasing number of mass shootings has a lingering effect on both adults and children across the country as well as in Metro Atlanta.

In addition to gunmen taking lives in mass shootings across the nation, violence hit home just last week in Atlanta when 24-year-old Deion Patterson shot five people at a healthcare facility in Midtown, killing one woman. Members of organizations like Students Demand Action are up in arms.

"The mental kind of, not just anguish, but anxiety, and just overall concern that we have to have, it's insane," said William Murphy, a Morehouse College student who volunteers with the organization.

Murphy says students are constantly on edge.


"I go to my friend's to go study at Georgia Tech. There's like a loud pop from a car starting or something, and we're literally fearful, starting to run. Mind you, this is right before our final exams," he said. "There is legislation that can be passed and should be passed. We can make it harder for guns to be accessed and make sure people are protected."

However, as the debate continues over whether gun restrictions are the answer, the increasing number of mass shootings is taking a mental toll on people of all ages, and according to local therapists, especially children.

"Some people are feeling really heightened, so they're just overwhelmed with anxiety, and their mind is racing," said Jody Baumstein, a licensed therapist with Children's Healthcare of Atlanta's Strong4Life.  "Other people find that they're almost desensitizing, which feels really scary, too."

She said that children are particularly impacted by the lingering effects of mass shootings.

"Kids don't have the language often to be able to tell us exactly what they're feeling, so they're going to show us, and they show us through their behavior," Baumstein said.

She says there are effective coping strategies, which include utilizing breathing techniques, and other activities to help children focus on the present and talking to them about the tragedies.

"We need to be having conversations with kids, because we don't want to assume that if they're not bringing it up, it's not on their mind," said Baumstein.

More strategies and resources can be found at the Strong4Life website.



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