Special Feature: Healing After the Sandy Hook Tragedy

child boarding school bus

January 3, 2013

Last month, unimaginable tragedy shook Newtown, Connecticut and the rest of the nation, as a shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School took the lives of 20 students and six staff members.

Nothing can reverse the disaster and return these children and educators to their families. But research can guide the community toward recovery—and may help prevent future tragedies.

Lisa H. Jaycox

With an event like this, ‘recovery’ doesn't mean a return to normal, because lives have been permanently altered. Recovery can only mean finding a new normal, a new path forward. And schools, those places of safety and healthy development, can help with that process, by providing a structure and community to support healing.

Lisa H. Jaycox, senior behavioral scientist

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Terry L. Schell

By comparison, gender, geographic region, and race are all better predictors of gun violence than mental health. Knowing someone is male or from a particular state gives us more information about their likelihood to perpetrate gun violence than knowing that they have a diagnosed mental illness… If policymakers and the public expect the mental health community to play a significant role in preventing future incidents like Newtown, the mental health research agenda must become a higher national priority in future federal funding decisions.

Terry L. Schell, senior behavioral scientist

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Bradley D. Stein

The tragedy at Sandy Hook most directly affects those who lost children, parents, spouses, loved ones, and friends. But the impact may also reach many children and educators across the country with their own experiences of violent trauma. As part of the effort to support educators and communities, we offer information about Psychological First Aid for Schools and additional resources for parents and educators about how best to respond.

Bradley D. Stein, senior natural scientist

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As many families can attest, the challenges of caring for a young or adult child with severe mental illness or emotional or behavioral disturbance are profound and heartbreaking. In our national conversation on mental health, we should remember the role of families when thinking about mental health treatment and ensure that our policies open up opportunities to support parents, siblings and relatives, and enhance their capacity for care.

Ramya Chari, associate policy researcher

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  • Gun Violence: Where Is the Research That Might Save Lives?

    Nov 5, 2015

    Gun violence is an important public health problem that accounts for more than 33,000 deaths each year in the United States. But in 1996, Congress stripped the CDC of funding for any research that could be associated with gun control advocacy. The lack of CDC funding has deterred researchers.

  • Guns in Homes: A Health Hazard

    Mar 25, 2013

    An ample body of evidence indicates that the benefits of keeping a gun for protection are substantially outweighed by the associated risks, writes Art Kellermann.

  • Firearms and Gun Control: Many Questions, Some Answers

    Jan 17, 2013

    Guns claim the lives of thousands of people in America every year. But the problem of gun violence is larger and much more complex than mass shootings. What does research say about how to reduce firearm-related deaths?

  • Can Improved Mental Health Care Prevent Gun Crimes? The Truth Is, We Don't Know

    Jan 17, 2013

    If policymakers and the public expect the mental health community to play a significant role in preventing future incidents like Newtown, the mental health research agenda must become a higher national priority in future federal funding decisions, writes Terry Schell.

  • Accounting for Risk of Violent Death

    Jan 4, 2013

    As a Southerner who learned to shoot at an early age, I've never had a problem with guns. But emergency-room doctors like me also know how much damage they can cause if misused or allowed to fall into the wrong hands, writes Arthur Kellermann.

  • Shifting the Burden of Mental Health Care: Helping Families

    Dec 21, 2012

    In our national conversation on mental health, we should remember the role of families when thinking about treatment and ensure that our policies open up opportunities to support parents, siblings and relatives, and enhance their capacity for care, writes Ramya Chari.

  • Responding to Newtown

    Dec 21, 2012

    Art Kellermann reviews what is known from broad outlines of the Newtown attack and past research on gun violence to offer some preliminary thoughts to the Obama Administration's task force and the public.

  • Silencing the Science on Gun Research

    Dec 21, 2012

    The United States has long relied on public health science to improve the safety, health, and lives of its citizens. Perhaps the same straightforward, problem-solving approach that worked well in other circumstances can help the nation meet the challenge of firearm violence, writes Arthur Kellermann.

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