I received a school district phone call message this morning informing me about a shooting tragedy at a high school in the town next to the city I live in. About 10 miles away. My stomach fell and my heart dropped in my chest. I could feel the blood drain from my face. The beginnings of a fight or flight reaction began to swell. Then the beginning of tears and disbelief.
Every time something like this happens I feel sick to my stomach and I feel a great sadness for the lives that were tragically ended today and the lives that will never be the same because of this act. And I wonder why. Why would a highschooler think that bringing a gun to school and shooting anyone and then themselves would solve any problem? Why do kids not know that emotions are fleeting and that they change? Don’t they know that they will grow up and their lives can and usually do get better? I guess they don’t. I guess they are so wrapped up in their emotions they don’t think about the lives of others, or themselves or their families…or in the moment they just don’t care. Why?
I have heard that a few districts near me have been doing school “shooter preparedness trainings” with the students and staff. Incorporating what to do if confronted by a shooter and drills complete with swat team vehicles and staff. I can’t help but think that more emphasis should be done to educate about managing emotions and building healthy emotional coping skills would be more beneficial.
I think that all the energy put into arguments on gun control and laws and whatnot should be placed on mental health education and awareness in communities and schools. And yes, I think guns should not available to many, many people who have access to them, but they are and always will be, unfortunately because if there is a will there is a way for anyone to find a weapon of their choice. The next logical step should be instead of focusing on the guns and who has them to focus on more mental health education and putting outreach programs in place and to teach kids that guns are not to be used as an emotional coping mechanism. I know that you would assume that is obvious, but I’m not so sure. I think unfortunately many of our kids and much of society has a low emotional intelligence and many often feel extreme discomfort with their feelings because of that. This leads to an amplified reaction to their emotions and a magnified response that usually includes violence or self harm. There is something very wrong.
In this school shooting two of the young victims were taken to the hospital less than 5 minutes from my home. One was flown to Seattle and from what information which has been released there were two deaths at the school. The shooter being one of them. I am praying for all of these children’s families, friends and their community as they join together to try to heal during the sorrowful and heartbreaking days, months and years ahead. Their lives forever altered.
My hope is that in this wake of yet another horribly tragic shooting the big conversations shift from gun laws to mental health education including communication about emotions and positive coping strategies.