A new study of 13 mass shootings in the U.S. from 2012 to 2019 urges a better understanding what happens to those who survive such events.
On the Fourth of July, the Reuters news agency reported that 10 people had been killed and 38 wounded in three mass shootings across the U.S. These latest mass shootings — defined as incidents in which four or more people are shot or killed, excluding the shooter — took place in Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Fort Worth.
In total, there have been more than 370 mass shootings in the country as of July 10, 2023, according to the Gun Violence Archive (GVA).
While the number of people killed in these shootings — 647 last year, according to GVA — makes headlines, “what gets less attention, sometimes no attention, is what happens to the survivors, those people that were not killed in these mass shootings,” says Oscar Villanueva, COO of TAL Global, a Silicon Valley-based Security Consulting and Risk Management firm. “Invariably, their lives have been forever impacted as well.”
For example, Villanueva points to one of the people shot at the 2017 Harvest Music Festival in Las Vegas. “Following the shooting, the victim had to undergo five surgeries over 2.5 years, costing over $450,000. Worse yet, the victim has still been unable to return to work.”
In May 2023, the Western Journal of Emergency Medicine published a study1 about the long-term physical and mental consequences of those that survived a mass shooting. The study involved 13 mass shootings from 2012 to 2019, which resulted in 153 deaths, 887 injuries, and 403 survivors.
The study revealed that:
- More than 50 weapons were used in these 13 shootings, all obtained legally.
- In 23 percent of the cases, the shootings were associated with hate crimes.
- More than 90 percent of the shootings occurred within one mile of schools or parks.
- Sixty-three percent of the survivor’s injuries were due to gunshots.
- The remainder were injured from falling, trampled by others exiting the impacted area, blunt force, or heart attacks.
- 50 of the 403 victims were diagnosed with one or more mental issues after the experience, including panic attacks, depression, and major post-traumatic stress disorder.
- Psychiatric treatment for these issues lasted from three days to years.
- The average medical cost for these victims was $32,000.
The study offered few ways to address and prevent mass shootings; however, according to Villanueva, it is possible. “Conducting a workplace violence threat assessment can help prevent violence, protect individuals and property, and improve safety,” he suggests. “ if an incident does occur, a threat assessment provides a strategy to mitigate and manage these violent attacks.”
In the video below, Villanueva discusses how to conduct a threat assessment in a workplace violence situation.
1 “Nonfatal Injuries Sustained in Mass Shootings in the U.S., 2012-2019: Injury Diagnosis Matrix, Incident Context, and Public Health Considerations,” By Matthew Czaja, Kraus Chadd, Phyo, Su, et al. published in May 2023 in the Western Journal of Emergency Medicine.