Survivor of Parkland school shooting diagnosed with PTSD

Survivor of Parkland school shooting diagnosed with PTSD

The young girl in room number 1212 was petrified. She could hear the sounds of bullets ricocheting off the walls, endless screams and the throb of footsteps as students ran here and there to dodge the spray of bullets from the AR-15. She also heard the thuds of bodies hitting the floor as she crouched in fear with her teacher and language-arts classmates. It was mayhem outside, and yet no one in Room 1212 dared to voice their fears. By the time the lone gunman, Nikolas Cruz, was apprehended, 17 had died and many others injured. Only the inmates of Room 1212 escaped without a scratch; yet the impact on their minds was immense.

Only hours earlier, the students of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida had been discussing dates and how they would celebrate Valentine’s Day. But the thoughts of celebration were far from the minds of all those who escaped the slaughter, including Samara Barrack, a 15-year-old freshman, who had hid in Room 1212. Though Cruz had passed the room on that fateful morning of Feb. 14, 2018, he had not entered it. As Barrack hugged her parents in an endless embrace, she realized that though she was alive, death had been just a door away.

Incident haunts the person even in sleep

The teen has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a disorder that develops in people who have experienced a near-death experience. The incident jars and haunts the person even in sleep. As a result, the person has a heightened flight-or-fight response and even slight sounds could make him/her anxious and stressed out. Some instances of PTSD are chronic and the affected person could find it difficult to manage routine activities, attend office or meet friends.

Barrack’s mother, Michele Barrack, said that in the first few weeks post the incident, Barrack had trouble sleeping on her own and slept in either her parents’ or her sister’s room. “Now we’re dealing with a daughter who is psychologically traumatized about this for the rest of her life. I think everyone in that building is dealing with it, to be honest,” she said.

Till now, a lot of teens are trying to cope with the trauma and are still sleeping with their parents. As with other survivors of a traumatic experience, Barrack finds loud sounds troublesome, as they trigger memories of that day.

Survivor planning to send legal notice to the school

Though Barrack was not hurt in the shooting, she intends to sue the school, alleging that it failed in its primary task of providing security to its students and staff. Patrick Lawlor, her lawyer, has sent a notice to Robert Runcie, superintendent, Broward Schools informing him about the intention. Apart from Barrack, the school has received notices from 40 others, including from the seven wounded in the shootings and from the relatives of the nine who lost their lives.

In the aftermath of the incident and the more recent Texas school shooting, it is necessary that people recognized not only the importance of mental health, but also ensured that proper checks were in place in schools and other public institutions to identify and help students on the verge of a meltdown or dealing with a mental disorder.

Time is the biggest healer

For a person battling PTSD, time is the biggest healer. With time one can learn to forget, forgive and move on. The entire process of healing requires the support of not only one’s family but qualified medical personnel as well. Psychological counselling and cognitive behavioral therapies (CBT) can mitigate the trauma and help an individual lead a happy and productive life as before.

If you know someone battling a mental illness and looking for help, refer them to the 24/7 Mental Health Helpline. Having access to multiple 24/7 mental health services, the representatives at our mental health live chat can help look for a suitable treatment facility. You can also call at our 24/7 helpline number (855) 653-8178 for further information about the best mental health rehab center.

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