It’s been just over a year since a gunman came onto the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and took the lives of 17 students and teachers on February 14, 2018. But the aftermath of the Parkland, Florida shooting is far from over. Many students are still feeling the effects of the traumatic events that took place that day and engaging in activism to make changes in society, such as rallying for more gun control.
One 16-year-old Parkland student, Eden Hebron, has even created an app designed to assess and assist with teen mental health. While we don’t know many details yet, People magazine reports that the app will match a person’s symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression with ways that they can work to cope with those feelings.
“So many kids have anxiety. This shooting impacted people all over the country,” Hebron told People. “This app is a way to give them the tools to help themselves.”
Some students have found ways to cope with their grief from that day. But others, such as 16-year-old Parkland sophomore Calvin Desir and 19-year old Sydney Aiello, who graduated from the high school in 2018, have died by suicide. Both suicides might be linked to lingering survivor’s guilt.
Survivor’s guilt can be experienced by those who survive a traumatic event where others were killed. Dr. Edward Silberman, a psychiatrist at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, told Today that those who live can experience the thought, “It could have happened to me and didn’t” — which can be difficult to bear. Especially if you feel you’re dealing with it on your own.
That’s precisely why Hebron, who’s found support through therapy, is working to help teens who feel they have no one to turn to. Because as Hebron points out, even with a strong support system in place, it’s difficult for someone who didn’t live through the school shooting to actually understand what it was like to be there.
“You can try to imagine, you can try to sympathize … but nobody understands how it feels to be in a room and literally feel, ‘These are the last moments of life,’” she told People magazine.
While she’s comfortable talking with a therapist, she realizes this may not be the case for everyone.
“Some families still consider it, like, ‘Oh, it’s a shrink. Are you going to talk your feelings out?’” she said.
Considering Hebron knows firsthand what it’s like to survive and live in a world post-Parkland, we have a feeling an app she creates could be a huge help to others experiencing similar feelings. In the meantime, though, you can visit the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) site for a list of similar mobile apps that are currently available and have been reviewed by ADAA members.
If you’re a parent of a teenager who’s dealing with depression or anxiety, these resources from other parents and professionals could be helpful as well. And if you know someone considering suicide, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).