LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - It’s been more than a year after 14 students and 3 staff members died in a Florida shooting, and the trauma for the community of Parkland continues as two survivors of the mass shooting took their own lives over the last several days.
Licensed Professional Counselor, Scott Riviere, said the deaths could be contributed to “survivor’s guilt”; a component of post-traumatic stress disorder.
“It’s super common," Riviere said. "Survival guilt is probably one of the more common phenomenon that you have when you have a mass trauma.”
Riviere said teens have the ability to block out these events for periods of time. It’s when they’re triggered that painful memories can come back.
“We go through something that’s really traumatic, and on one hand we’re very thankful that we survived that event, but when we look back we see all the losses that we have,” Riviere said. “They’re very happy, but they look back and see that their three or four best friends didn’t survive.”
Earl Wiltz Jr. is a military veteran. He said post-traumatic stress disorder is something many men and women in uniform also struggle with when they return from deployment.
“It’s a mental battle you have to deal with it day by day,” Wiltz said.
After the second student’s suicide, parents in the Parkland community came together again. They want to encourage students and parents alike to know that they are not alone.
Riviere says the best way to prevent survivor’s guilt is facing the trauma immediately and head-on.
“The first 72 hours after a tragic event—that’s when they’re most likely to want to talk about it and process it," Riviere said. “Talking with your friends is probably one of the best things that teenagers can do, because a lot of times your friends can relate 'cause they were also in that experience with you.”