Asked for comment in wake of the Washington DC Navy Yard shooting Monday morning that killed 12, Columbine High School principal Frank DeAngelis told the Washington Post that officials in charge have to “help themselves” work through the trauma if they’re going to be any help to others.
He said a Vietnam veteran told him “You’re going to be pulled in so many different directions — [for me] your students, your staff, the community members — there’s gonna be so much you’re going to be asked to do, but if you don’t help yourself you cant help others. So I immediately got into some counseling to give me the coping skills that would allow me to continue. And it’s not that it ever ends. Just recently when the tragedy occurred at Sandy Hook, I once again started experiencing some of these same symptoms that I knew were drawing back to what happened [at Columbine in 1999], so I called my counselor for maintenance.”
“There are things that re-trigger or re-traumatize… it sets you off,” he said. “For many of us who go through post-traumatic stress disorder, it’s something we have learned to cope with and live with but it’s very difficult.”
Apparently a shooter, or shooters, went on a killing spree in the Yard at around 8:20 a.m.
The 1990 Columbine school shooting in Colorado quickly became a touchstone event in an era where gun massacres that target innocent victims make headlines at regular intervals. It’s a genre of killing usually tied to a need to make a statement about personal unhappiness and frustration.
The D.C. events come less than a week after two Colorado lawmakers were recalled from office for passing gun-control measures in response to high-profile massacres last year at an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater and at Sandy Hook elementary school in Connecticut.