The recent Colorado shooting that claimed the lives of 12 moviegoers and saw scores more injured likely left many both in attendance and linked to the senseless crime in shock and reeling, but experts say that such events have a ripple effect for years in people touched by the tragedy.
The Colorado shooting left 12 dead and dozens wounded, but the aftereffects are felt way past the people who were present in the theater during the midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises.
In similar events like the Columbine massacre, which also occurred in Colorado, the lingering trauma of the tragedy did not become apparent for years after the victims and perpetrators had been laid to rest.
After the Colorado shooting, USA Today spoke with grief and trauma experts and discovered “that pain will radiate to friends, neighbors, classmates, co-workers and on to strangers who identify with young folks out to have fun at a hot new flick” in the wake of a tragedy such as the one experienced in Aurora late Thursday night.
Clinical psychologist Joel Dvoskin was involved after the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tuscon where several people were also shot dead, as well as the Columbine shootings several years back in Littleton, Colorado.
Dvoskin explains that recovery from a traumatic event like the Aurora murders is relative, but trauma can re-emerge even when we think we are well past the incident:
“The Tucson community bounced back more quickly than I had dared to hope, largely because of the courageous recovery of Giffords, who gave us something positive to rally around. But I can assure you there are people for whom the Tucson and Columbine (psychological) wounds are still fresh.”
Another expert consulted about the post-shooting trauma said that the mental effects are akin to a cold or flu virus running its course.