The increase in mass shootings has a number of adults too nervous to shop at their local malls or attend certain events.
A new survey on stress and mass shootings by the American Psychological Association found that a large majority of adults in the U.S. are stressed over mass shootings and so much so that it prevents them from going out and enjoying life.
“It’s clear that mass shootings are taking a toll on our mental health, and we should be particularly concerned that they are affecting the way many of us are living our daily lives,” said Arthur C. Evans Jr., PhD, APA’s chief executive officer. “The more these events happen in places where people can see themselves frequenting, the greater the mental health impact will be. We don’t have to experience these events directly for them to affect us. Simply hearing about them can have an emotional impact, and this can have negative repercussions for our mental and physical health.”
The survey was conducted online by The Harris Poll between Aug. 8 and 12. The APA commissioned the survey following the two mass shootings that took place within 13 hours of each other in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio. The survey polled 2,017 adults between ages 18 and older who reside in the U.S.
The survey found that 79% of adults in the U.S. say they experience stress when thinking about the possibility of a mass shooting. Other adults reported changing their behavior due to fear of mass shootings and nearly one in three adults (32%) say they find it best not to leave their homes to avoid being a victim of a mass shooting. Another 33% of adults say fear prevents them from going to certain places or events and nearly one-quarter (24%) of adults report changing how they live their lives because of fear of a mass shooting.
Places and events that once brought people together are now the places adults fear going. When asked which places they fear to go to the most, adults say a public event (53%), mall (50%), school or university (42%) or movie theater (38%), with only one in five (21%) saying they never experience stress as a result of the possibility of a mass shooting.
“Mass shootings are a public health issue, and we need to take a comprehensive public health approach to understand and devise lasting policy solutions,” Evans said. “It is important that people and policymakers realize that this is not an insurmountable issue; it is something we have the power to change.”
Minority groups are the most impacted by this increasing fear, the survey found. Hispanic adults reported being more likely (32%) than white non-Hispanic adults (15%) to say they experience stress often or constantly related to the possibility of a mass shooting. Black adults are more likely to feel that they or someone they know will be a victim of a mass shooting (60% compared with 41% of white adults and 50% of Hispanic adults).
Women also report feeling more stress more than men about the possibility of a shooting (85% vs. 71%), and parents of children under the age of 18 are nearly twice as likely as those without children under 18 to say they experience stress often or constantly because of the possibility of a mass shooting (28% vs.16%). Further, 62% of parents say they “live in fear that their children will be victims of a mass shooting”.
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