We all know that 17 people were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentines Day. There were also 14 injured victims who survived.
This is Samantha Fuentes.
Samantha was in the classroom with Helena Ramsey and Nicholas Dworet when Nikolas Cruz shot at her and her classmates through a window. Samantha was shot in both legs and shrapnel flew into her face. Her friends Helena and Nicholas died. Samantha has a piece of shrapnel lodged behind her eye that would require a risky surgery to remove. For now it will remain in place as she sees specialists to determine next steps.
Anthony Borges was shot 5 times in the legs and back. He also survived. He remains hospitalized and has a long recovery ahead of him. His family set up a GoFundMe page to help cover the cost of his medical care.
We talk a lot about the number of victims who die at the hand of gun violence, but what about those that live? What happens to them? Do you know what happened to any of the over 500 people injured in the Las Vegas shooting? Or the 20 injured in the Sutherland Springs Church shooting? No, we don’t talk about them. They lived; they’re the lucky ones.
Except if you read, “What I Saw Treating the Victims from Parkland Should Change the Debate on Guns,” written by Florida radiologist Heather Sher and published in The Atlantic, you realize the gunshot survivors are not so lucky after all.
What are the long-term effects of surviving a mass shooting? A study conducted by Fran Norris, PhD for the National Center for PTSD found that up to 36% of those who survive are diagnosed with PTSD while others suffer from subthreshold PTSD. And with each subsequent shooting, the fear and dread rises up all over again.
CNN has reported on survivors of previous shootings and the impact the shooting had on them. From one survivor who quit school because she couldn’t face going back, to another who developed an addiction to opiods, the impact can be devastating.
I think it’s important that we focus not only on the dead but on those who survive as well. Maybe if we get in touch with their pain, we will be willing to do the hard work to make ourselves and each other safe. Right now some of us fancy themselves heroes and are convinced they could have stopped a shooter with an AR-15 if only they were there with a gun on their hip.