Growing Up With Mass Shootings

Growing Up With Mass Shootings

Give peace a chance
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*Trigger warning: shootings

*Note: This article is not intended to be a political debate. I could've easily written an article about my opinions, but there's endless ones out there, and I don't like repeating something I feel like has already been said. This is more about society and what different things people are exposed to. You're entitled to your own opinions and beliefs, this is simply my own.

Another day, yet another mass shooting. I normally don't write/discuss politically-charged topics, as there's plenty of articles like that out there. But with so much senseless death and so much publicity around it, I felt compelled to say something.

I was born in June 1993, almost 25 years ago. An interesting, seemingly peaceful time of VHS, gross cartoons, and great music. Little did my younger self know, there was a dark, scary crime that was happening before it became popular that would become part of my culture.

In April 1999, at the age of five, the Columbine High School massacre occurred. I don't remember any of the news coverage, which was probably a good thing, me being too young and innocent to understand. But I do remember one day, my elementary school principal came to my classroom and told me and my classmates that if anybody ever entered the school with guns or knives, to "not be scared." The room was dead silent after that; of course that was scary. Even at age five, I knew guns and knives were scary, I grew up watching my dad shoot deer, I knew that guns were dangerous. There were a lot of bomb threats at my school shortly after that, none of which were real, but I was still young and unaware, maybe these were all just surprise half-days.

Flash forward to October 2006, I was 13 and in seventh grade. The Amish Schoolhouse shootings happened. I read the news stories and I was disturbed by it; who goes into a school, an Amish school especially, and shoots kids? My school ended up putting locks on the classroom doors after that, which gave me a sense of false security: I was glad there were locks, but it was the reason behind it that was unnerving.

Only seven months later, another shooting happened. Virginia Tech massacre. I was home and logged onto MSN, where the news was all over the page. What was Virginia Tech? I knew whatever happened must've been bad enough for it to be front page headlines. American Idol even acknowledge the tragedy that night, expressing their condolences. Me being obsessed with Idol, I knew this was important. I figured I could research the event, just to understand. I was stunned by the severity: 32 victims. Wikipedia had posted a picture of the assailant holding two guns pointed at the camera. That scared me. How could someone be that bold? That photo was enough to tell me that the gunman had no regard for human life.

My small school (a middle school and high school combined into one building), began having practice lockdowns; Virginia Tech's aftermath now taking full affect. One day, we had a real lockdown. We saw a cop car outside. Eerie silence. It's just a drill, it's just a drill. There was a sound of scuffling and running on the squeaky hallway floors. No bangs, no yelling, no gunshots, just a lot of running. The lockdown lasted about thirty minuets or so. It was later revealed that the police had a dog sniffing out drugs, but no threat of a shooting.

Over time, I've felt like I've become desensitized to shootings and violence; it's become normal for me to see this on the news. This is not okay. From movie theaters, to schools, concerts, nightclubs, malls, restaurants, churches, military bases, are we not safe anywhere? I can't help but wonder if I go to any of these places if there's a risk I'll be gunned down. I have nightmares of this all the time, and I pray it stays as a nightmare, not reality.

I love going to concerts, watching movies, dining at restaurants, and going to occasional clubs. I can't go to these establishments and not paranoid myself that something tragic is going to happen. We can't be afraid of living, even though there's an increased risk of violence happening. If I chose to live out the rest of my life in my home because I'm scared of being killed, then I wouldn't be living, that would be giving the shooters what they want: fear.

Change is what we need, from everyone, not just the government and legislators. Stop preaching hate, judge less. Reach out more, be kinder to those who need it most. Trust your instincts. If you feel like someone is in trouble, listen and try to help. Take care of yourself and others around you, you never know how life changing that can be for someone who needs it most.

In the words of the wise John Lennon, another casualty of a senseless act of violence: give peace a chance.

This blog post is dedicated to the angels of Parkland, Virginia Tech, West Nickel Mines School, and all the other angels who died in mass shootings. I pray change comes to this struggling world you left behind. <3

Suicide prevention hotline:

1-800-273-8255


Cover Image Credit: PxHere

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Everything You Will Miss If You Commit Suicide

The world needs you.
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You won't see the sunrise or have your favorite breakfast in the morning.

Instead, your family will mourn the sunrise because it means another day without you.

You will never stay up late talking to your friends or have a bonfire on a summer night.

You won't laugh until you cry again, or dance around and be silly.

You won't go on another adventure. You won't drive around under the moonlight and stars.

They'll miss you. They'll cry.

You won't fight with your siblings only to make up minutes later and laugh about it.

You won't get to interrogate your sister's fiancé when the time comes.

You won't be there to wipe away your mother's tears when she finds out that you're gone.

You won't be able to hug the ones that love you while they're waiting to wake up from the nightmare that had become their reality.

You won't be at your grandparents funeral, speaking about the good things they did in their life.

Instead, they will be at yours.

You won't find your purpose in life, the love of your life, get married or raise a family.

You won't celebrate another Christmas, Easter or birthday.

You won't turn another year older.

You will never see the places you've always dreamed of seeing.

You will not allow yourself the opportunity to get help.

This will be the last sunset you see.

You'll never see the sky change from a bright blue to purples, pinks, oranges, and yellows meshing together over the landscape again.

If the light has left your eyes and all you see is the darkness, know that it can get better. Let yourself get better.

This is what you will miss if you leave the world today.

This is who will care about you when you are gone.

You can change lives. But I hope it's not at the expense of yours.

We care. People care.

Don't let today be the end.

You don't have to live forever sad. You can be happy. It's not wrong to ask for help.

Thank you for staying. Thank you for fighting.

Suicide is a real problem that no one wants to talk about. I'm sure you're no different. But we need to talk about it. There is no difference between being suicidal and committing suicide. If someone tells you they want to kill themselves, do not think they won't do it. Do not just tell them, “Oh you'll be fine." Because when they aren't, you will wonder what you could have done to help. Sit with them however long you need to and tell them it will get better. Talk to them about their problems and tell them there is help. Be the help. Get them assistance. Remind them of all the things they will miss in life.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255

Cover Image Credit: Brittani Norman

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If You Want To Die Tonight, Please Read This

I want you to live. More importantly, I want you to want to live.

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If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255

Drowning.

Drowning.

Drowning.

Drowning.

The thoughts are deafening, screaming at you that the world would be better off without you and that no one would care if you were gone.

So, you find yourself on the Internet, searching for ways to die in a relatively painless way that will leave the least amount of mess for others. You find yourself thinking about the bridge a half mile from your house or the assortment of pills lining the walls of your medicine cabinet. You remember that your roommates will not be home from class for a few hours; that you are totally alone.

And then, in your Internet search for ways to finally escape the pain, you happen upon this article.

Yes, this one right here.

This one telling you to stay.

And, well, you find yourself still reading along because a piece of you, even if it is the smallest piece of your existence, wants a reason to live.

* * *

I am not sure what is causing you pain, and maybe you honestly are not sure either. All you know is that you have this pain — this never-ending pain — and it's become enough.

Society tells us that we need to tattoo a smile onto our faces and pretend that everything is OK even when we are aching on the inside. If you take one thing away from this article, I want you to remember this — it is OK not to be OK. It is OK if you are not OK today or tomorrow or next week or a year from now. However, one day, it will be a little better and there will be a little bit of sunshine peeking out through the clouds.

I want you to live. More importantly, I want you to want to live.

And, sometimes, wanting to live is about just noticing the little things that make you happy and remembering them.

Like the way the sun looks glistening off of the lake by your house at 5:47 p.m. on a Thursday evening.

Or the way the scent of your coffee creeps up your nostrils while it cools to a drinkable temperature.

Or the fact that a new episode of your family's favorite show is coming on this Thursday.

Or the way your Lush bath bomb colors your water into beautiful shades of blue and green and yellow and pink.

Or the dinner your Mom cooked for tonight to share with you, your Dad, and your sister.

* * *

Life may not turn out how you plan, but perhaps that is not a bad thing.

God has a plan for you.

Why the plan involves you feeling this way, I do not know, but I do know that God did not bring you into this world to suffer.

You deserve help.

You deserve love.

You deserve to be supported.

Even if you feel alone, I promise you are never alone.

You can text "Hello" to 741-741 at any hour of the day and someone will be there to support you.

* * *

So, tonight while you want to die, please just think about the last time you smiled so hard that your face physically hurt or laughed until you almost peed. Just think about a time that you felt something besides what you are feeling now and hold onto it.

Hold onto it, lie down, and go to sleep.

And wake up tomorrow knowing that you are a survivor.

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