Special Feature: Healing After the Sandy Hook Tragedy
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.
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
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
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
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