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Las Vegas Study Shows Long Mental Health Ills Of Shooting Survivors

Survivors of Las Vegas' Route 91 Harvest festival shooting continued to struggle with mental health ailments years after the Oct. 1, 2017, mass shooting on the Strip, found a Boston University-led study.

A gunman perched in a hotel room shot hundreds of festival attendees, killing 58 of them the night of the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. Two shooting victims died as a result of their wounds in later years.

More than 800 people were injured that night.

The study was conducted by Boston University’s School of Health and the Medical University of South Carolina, and published in the JAMA Network Open medical journal, reports the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

In 2021, a team led by medical scholars Mohammed Abba-Aji and Dean Kilpatrick surveyed 177 witnesses and shooting survivors eligible to receive services at the Vegas Strong Resilience Center, now called the Resiliency and Justice Center. Survivors included loved ones of people injured or killed.

About half of respondents said they “experienced major depressive episodes” within the year of the survey, and more than 60 percent reported suffering post-traumatic stress disorder.

About one-third of survey responders reported being injured in the shooting, and about half of the 177 people said “they had received little social support from family and friends during the six months prior to the survey,” the release said.

“Our findings reveal the long-lasting impact of gun violence on witnesses and survivors, with many still grappling with severe mental health issues years after the Las Vegas shooting,” said Abba-Aji. “This underscores the unique and ongoing challenge America faces with mass violence and its aftermath.”

Abba-Aji, a research fellow in the university’s epidemiology department, added that the crisis “calls for a national response to not only address but to also prevent the enduring trauma inflicted on our communities.”

“The fact that such a high percentage of these mass violence victims still had PTSD and depression four years later is disturbing and demonstrates a continuing need for effective, trauma-informed mental health services,” said Kilpatrick, a professor at the Medical School of South Carolina.

Dr. Angie Moreland, co-director of the National Mass Violence Center at the Medical University of South Carolina, co-authored the study.

Commissioners in Las Vegas' Clark County last week designated a nonprofit to oversee the efforts to construct a permanent memorial to the victims.

Commissioners approved the transfer of more than $140,000 in donations collected by the 1 October Memorial Fund to the Vegas Strong Fund.

A memorial is planned on two acres near the shooting site. It would include a plaza, a tower of light and 58 candlelike structures to represent the victims who died.


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