Yesterday, nothing happened and I’m relieved. My sister messaged me two days prior at her college regarding a threat letter found on campus. In it, a date was set for a mass shooting on the first day of finals week. It sickens me there are people out there who would do such a thing to students who just want to further their education — as if the loss of a life isn’t tragic or heartbreaking to those who love them.
My sister was scared — terrified even. CSUN isn’t in the best area and she said a short while ago, there was a stabbing that took place. Several years prior, my friend was mugged at knife point at the nearby Starbucks, losing her wallet and phone in the process. It truly is a fucked up world we live in and it doesn’t sit too well with me. I told my sister to just wait to hear back from her professors who would likely postpone her exams before making the drive out. They did, which is a sigh of relief for me. I told her realistically nothing will happen and the increased police presence would reduce any chances of a real serious threat.
But sometimes, there are no warning signs or a suspicious letter to be found. In 2014, I was present at night for a mass shooting that took place in Isla Vista. Lives were lost that night and I vividly remember running for my life at the sound of gun shots. To this day, I’m not the least bit fond of firearms and never fucking will be. That night, my friend Kenny was over at my place in Santa Ynez. His phone was acting up and I offered to fix it for him. For some reason, the internet was unusually slow and what would have taken me just 30 minutes to do, took an hour. Afterwards, we decided to head out to IV to get either Freebirds — a popular burrito place or IV Deli.
Had we arrived just 30 minutes earlier, it might have been a different story. I’ll be honest, this really fucked me up in the head. I remember waking up to several messages and missed phone calls — all asking if I was okay. Physically, I was fine. Mentally, I was fucked. I walked into IV and there were police on every street. Places had broken windows and police tape to section off the area. The deli was wrecked. I went to class and I knew something was not right about me. I forgot everything — my laptop, my book, not even a pen. My group of friends knew something was really wrong and insisted I go to the therapy sessions my school was offering to students. So I did. I found out I had PTSD and was advised to take a later final that all my professors were giving as an option. If I didn’t get any better, I was to come back in for another session. I’m thankful I didn’t have to.
I believe part of the problem with school shootings is this country’s stance on mental illness. It takes a backseat and is somewhat the butt of everyone’s joke when you hear about therapy. What does this say about society? Are there people out there who are mentally ill forever in their bubble fueling their thoughts with more extremist behavior? Maybe. There’s a lack of awareness for the mentally ill and the ways people can get the help they need. Most regular doctor visits for a flu or cough are simple and easy to get medicine. Psychiatrists visits are not like that. There are fewer of them and cost hundreds per visit, which alarmed me when I was seeking one.
The media perpetuates this narrative that we are somehow less safer now, which I don’t believe at in all. In the modern world, we are safer now than we’ve ever been since the 80s. Every place in this nation is under high surveillance. Our smartphones give us the ability to record any activity and broadcast it in real time. News gravitates towards the negative and sensationalizes stories at the hopes of higher viewers. If they didn’t give so much air time to shooters and threats, there would be less copy cats out there. I find it amazing there’s a certain subset of the population who get all their information from television. It’s all trash and infomercials. Anyone glued to their television all day should ought to reconsider how they spend their free time. This is largely the reason I don’t watch any TV. Fuck that shit.