How Mass Shootings Like Oxford Impact Communities and Mental Health

University of Michigan public health and psychology expert Dr. Marc Zimmerman talks about how mass violence affects us all and how to cope.

Mass shootings like the one at Oxford High School are shocking and heartbreaking for the victims and their loved ones. But they also have widespread mental health impacts on the entire community.

“As adults, we create the world that kids live in. And so not only as parents, but as other adults in the community, we need to pay attention to the kind of world we’re creating for our children.” — Dr. Marc Zimmerman, University of Michigan Public Health

A University of Michigan public health, psychology, and violence expert says that these events can be difficult for people to cope with, even if they are not directly involved in the violence.


Listen: Dr. Marc Zimmerman of the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health discusses the Oxford shooting and how to cope with the violence


Guest

Dr. Marc Zimmerman is a University of Michigan professor of public health and Director of the Prevention Research Center of Michigan and the CDC-funded Youth Violence Prevention Center

“That’s important to realize that when these events like this occur, they are certainly traumatic in a broader way because they seem somewhat random,” says Zimmerman. “We all seem somewhat vulnerable.”

But he notes that while most school shootings are homicides, almost 30% of school shootings are suicides and 4% are suicide-homicide combined. “So we have to put this whole idea of firearms and what we need to do about shootings in a larger context.”

He says he agrees with Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald’s decision to charge the accused shooter’s parents in the Oxford High School shooting. Zimmerman says parents and the adults surrounding children are responsible for them.

“As adults, we create the world that kids live in. And so not only as parents but as other adults in the community, we need to pay attention to the kind of world we’re creating for our children,” he says. “And so I would put that responsibility, and more psychological kind of responsibility and social responsibility on all of us to take some responsibility for what kind of world we want kids to live in.”

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