Stress-Related Emergency Visits Increased After School Shootings

School shootings may have a community-wide impact on mental health.

HealthDay News — School shootings may have a community-wide impact on mental health, according to a study published online March 7 in Contemporary Economic Policy.

Kritee Gujral, Ph.D., from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in Palo Alto, California, and colleagues compared stress-related emergency department visits in ZIP codes within 5 miles (exposed) and in ZIP codes 10 to 15 miles (control) from school shootings. The analysis included data from before and after school shootings from 2005 to 2011.

The researchers found that school shootings and fatal school shootings were associated with annual increases of 0.7 and 1.5 stress-related emergency department visits per 1,000 people, representing increases of 7 and 14 percent, respectively, compared with preshooting utilization. However, the increase in stress-related emergency department visits was not driven by school-age children or adolescents.

“While there have been efforts to prioritize mental health of youth, especially using school infrastructure, the mental health needs of individuals in the broader community may be overlooked in the aftermath of school shootings,” the authors write. “Our work, along with other scholarly work, calls attention to community-wide impact of school shootings and to the existence of greater mental health needs following school shootings.”

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