That’s how I feel when I see the impact the Parkland school shooting continues to have on the survivors of that terrifying day over a year ago. Long after their classmates were laid to rest, the survivors are plagued with depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and survivor’s guilt. They are kids.
The news of the two Parkland survivors who recently died by suicide is a reminder of where we are as a country as far as mental health. The terror of that February day lives on inside each survivor. From tragedy has come great passion and activism as they heal from trauma most adults will never experience, by doing everything they can to make sure their classmates didn’t die in vain.
But what about the latest victims of the Parkland shooting? Their deaths remind us of the very real and heavy continued trauma from that day, and the very real struggles many people battle every day all over the world. They were kids.
So, what can we do?
1. Stop whispering about mental health behind closed doors. Educate and advocate.
2. Vote, vote, vote! Let’s get politicians in office who want to fix America’s mental health crisis.
3. Check in with your friends and loved ones. Even the ones who seem OK. Be there to listen and support without a judgmental ear.
4. Volunteer. Help organizations get the word out. Encourage loved ones to join you. If you are comfortable, volunteer at a hotline or text line.
5. Take care of yourself. Self-care is important — have several options for yourself. Seek help if you need it. Recognizing your struggle and getting help is one of the bravest things you can do.
Together, we can make a difference. Together, we can move forward. Together, we can support each other.