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Fri Jun 17, 2016, 12:07 AM

The Orlando Shooting Could Have Far-Reaching Effects In The LGBT Community

"The mass shooting at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida could have a lasting impact on the mental health of the country’s LGBT community. The increasing evidence that homophobia may have motivated the Orlando shooter means that the effects of Sunday’s shooting will likely extend far beyond the city of Orlando itself.

After any mass shooting, there are concerns over addressing mental health issues and PTSD symptoms among survivors, police officers, and health care personnel. After the country’s second most deadly shooting at Virginia Tech, for example, a study showed that 15 percent of students experienced high levels of post-traumatic stress symptoms.

One survivor of the Pulse shooting, Norman Casiano, was recently released from the hospital after being shot in the back. He is thankful to be back home, but said he experiences some post-traumatic stress after the harrowing events from the night.
“I’ll sleep and if I heard slamming or something, I don’t remember it, but my mom says that I would wake up startled and I would be looking around and freaking out and she would have to tell me: you’re safe, you’re safe, you’re safe,” Casiano told the New York Times. “Even the gunshots on the news, I automatically get nauseous.”

But the fact that the gunman targeted a specifically queer space affects LGBT people’s sense of security in a very specific way.

The LGBT community is already grappling with the mental health issues that stem from discrimination. Being bullied for being different can lead to PTSD symptoms later in life. LGBTQ people are three times more likely to experience a mental health condition, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and LGBTQ youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide than straight people. LGBT people are more likely to be targeted for a hate crime than other minorities.

The subtle type of violence that LGBTQ people experience throughout their lives, like discrimination and family rejection, "often snowballs into larger problems," according to Doug Meyer, a sociologist at the University of Virginia and the the author of a book that examines different forms of anti-LGBT violence. In his book, Meyer found that LGBT people with fewer financial resources were more likely to experience that snowball effect and eventually experience issues like homelessness, lack of work, and a cycle of poverty.

Anybody experiencing distress after the shooting should reach out for support, Anderson said, and it may be particularly helpful for LGBT individuals to connect with other people in the queer community."

http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2016/06/16/3788309/mental-health-orlando-shooting-lgbt/

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