Our View: Victims of trauma are traumatically not helped

(Illustration by Maia Wiederhold)

Throughout the course of our time as a society, we the people have turned a blind eye to those who have experienced traumatic events. Many times, victims have been left to pick up the pieces of their lives with the judgment of society staring them in the face. The victims have been not only stigmatized, but traumatized as well. We at the Collegiate believe that victims of trauma should get the assistance they need and should not be recognized as another societal stigma. Instead, they should be recognized as the people they are.

Recently, two survivors of last year’s horrific Parkland shooting committed suicide. Sydney Aiello suffered from survivor’s guilt and post-traumatic stress disorder. Less than a week later, Calvin Desir committed suicide. While time has passed since the violence of last year’s events, PTSD symptoms can appear long after the traumatic events. According to Mental Health America, “… the symptoms may not begin or may not become a problem until years later.” Because of this, we believe that it’s important to support survivors of trauma emotionally and mentally continuously and not solely after the trauma takes place.

To make matters worse, our society stigmatizes victims of trauma. Many victims endure several different types of stigma, including: public and self-stigma. As a general public, our society tends to discriminate against people with PTSD. We see them as sick and unsafe when we should be seeing them as the person they are. When we treat them as sick and unsafe, we help assist in their self-stigmatization. Often victims are asked questions such as: “Can’t you get over it?” Rather, we should be asking “How can I help?” To end the stigma, we believe that communities need to set up programs to educate citizens on trauma disorders. By understanding the disorder properly people will be less likely to become another societal stigma.

In addition, sufferers of traumatic events do not receive the proper medical care. Our country spends billions on treating anxiety disorders. Heal My PTSD states that, “The annual cost to society of anxiety disorders is estimated to be significantly over $42.3 billion, often due to misdiagnosis and undertreatment.” Since many of these victims are not diagnosed, therefore not treated properly, they are suffering. We believe funding programs that help PTSD victims would not only allow for a better educated healthcare staff, but for the victims to receive the proper mental health treatment that is warranted for their particular case.

We believe that we should no longer stigmatize what we do not understand, instead we must learn to understand what we stigmatize. We must support the victims emotionally and mentally in conjunction to granting them accesses to the proper resources. As a society, we should not have to correlate trauma with tragedy.

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