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Mental health and school shootings
A child is 83,287.5% more likely to take their own life than to die in a school shooting
As the saying goes, there’s "Lies, damned lies, and statistics.”
Let me be clear: any loss of a child is an absolute tragedy and we should go to great lengths to prevent it. The sorrow felt by the community over the tragic death of a child, no matter the cause, is felt greatly. A life cut short is always terrible.
But the statistics around school shootings are so radically different from the media narrative that I feel the need to jump in here and try to calm some people down.
Let’s cut straight to the chase. According to the Washington Post’s database on school shootings, last updated with a shooting on January 31, 2023, 192 children have been slain in school shootings since Columbine on April 20, 1999. And that 192 includes Columbine.
So over almost 24 years, 192 students have died. That’s an average of exactly 8 per year.
So let’s compare that frequency to some other, similarly rare events.
On average, 28 people are hit by and die from lightning each year in the US.
So that means you are 350% more likely to die from being hit by lightning than from a school shooting.
On an average year, 12 students die going to and from school. That means it’s 50% more dangerous being transported to and from school than actually being shot in one.
But here’s the one that really gets me.
The number of teen suicides in the US is about 6,663 a year.
Over 24 years, that’s 159,912 kids that have killed themselves.
That’s means your child is 83,287.5% more likely to take their own life than to die in a school shooting.
To put it another way, it’s 8 kids a year vs 18 kids a day.
Additionally, most school shooters are deeply mentally ill. So addressing the mental health issue in schools would most likely not only reduce suicides but also reduce school shootings. We can kill two birds with one stone.
Personally, I feel we pay far too much attention to the issue of shootings and far to little on what’s causing them as well as thousands of suicides a year: the horrible mental health system of our schools. If we start addressing that, we can begin to reduce so many tragic deaths.