At a half-day conference last month at Adelphi University, Hauppauge campus, I talked about the similarities and differences of emotional trauma stemming from natural and human-made tragedies including the “Twin Sandys” (Hurricane Sandy and Sandy Hook).
- The Sandy Hook Elementary School incident on 12/14/12 is the second deadliest mass shooting by a single person in American history after the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre that left 32 dead, and second deadliest mass murder at an elementary school in the U.S., after the 1927 Bath School bombing in Michigan in which 45 people, including 38 children, were killed.
Adam Lanza, 20 years old, shot and killed his mother Nancy at their Newtown home before driving to the school where he fatally shot 20 children and 6 adult staff members. He committed suicide by shooting himself in the head.
Other school disasters:
University of Texas massacre, 1966: Ex-marine Charles Whitman, 25, shot and killed 13 people and an unborn child at the campus. He was gunned down by cops.
Cleveland School massacre, 1989: Patrick Purdy, 26, fired an AK-47 into an elementary playground, killing five children and wounding 30. He later took his own life.
Columbine High School massacre, 1999: Teens Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold shot and killed 12 students and a teacher and injured 24 others at their Colorado school before killing themselves.
Amish school shooting, 2006: Father of three, Charles Carl Roberts, 32, took 10 Amish girls between six and 13 years old hostage in Pennsylvania and killed five of them. The spree ended when he committed suicide.
- The Boston Marathon bombing on April 15, 2013 left 5 dead and 280 injured (includes 16 cops during gunfight April 19).
- The devastation of the Oklahoma City Tornadoes on May 20 & May 31, 2013 caused 1 billion dollars in damages. Both were EF5 tornadoes that occur at a frequency of 1 in 1000. The largest one was 2.6 miles wide (widest on record; Manhattan is 2.4 miles wide at its widest point) with winds blowing at 295 mph.
- The Aurora, Colorado mass shooting on July 20, 2012 by James Eagan Holmes at a Century movie theater during the midnight screening of the film The Dark Knight Rises that killed 12 people and injured 70 others. Holmes pled not guilty by reason of insanity on June 4, 2013, and is scheduled for trial on February 3, 2014.
- The shooting in Arizona near Tucson on January 8, 2011 by Jared Lee Loughner in which he critically injured Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, killed 6 others, and injured 13 people, among them federal judge John Roll. Congresswoman Giffords resigned from her congressional seat. Loughner, who was diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic, initially was incompetent to stand trial. He was medicated while in jail as part of his treatment. He was judged competent to stand trial in August, 2012, following treatment during which he was medicated. He pled guilty to 19 counts and was sentenced to life in prison without parole in November, 2012.
Important considerations: epidemiology; diagnoses (PTSD & co-morbid disorders); the changes from DSM-IV-TR to DSM-5; assessment (need to develop (already underway) valid assessment instruments); and context (clinical applications; forensic applications).
On the bright side of things on Long Island, the Long Beach 2.2 mile boardwalk opened up Friday, October 25, rebuilt with weather-resistant tropical hardwood. There was a big ribbon-cutting ceremony:
As news stories emerge, however, much remains to be done, and for many, emotional trauma will be pervasive and enduring.
 See for instance: National Center for PTSD http://www.ptsd.va.gov/index.asp And: http://healmyptsd.com/education/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-statistics