Numb to tragedy: Are frequent mass shootings are making us desensitized to the human toll?


SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – Three separate mass shootings over the weekend in New York, Wisconsin and California left 9 people dead and 28 wounded but are people getting desensitized to these deadly incidents?

Most of us remember the Trolley Square shooting that left five people dead and four others wounded 12 years ago but how many of us remember Virginia Beach and Aurora, Illinois, sites of other mass shootings that happened just a few months ago? 

With a relatively low body count, chances are Sunday’s mass shooting in Gilroy, California will soon be forgotten too.

“It’s sad but I’m not surprised anymore,”  University of Utah senior Shaykayla Smith told ABC4 News. “People are starting to be numb to the fact that there’s so many mass shootings across the United States and it is a problem. It’s a big problem.”

“It just happens so often I feel like that the next one will happen before people can even react to the first one,” U of U senior Alex Catledge said. “So it’s hard to even have an emotional connection to the first one.” 

Psychologists call it “Compassion Fatigue” and “Psychic Numbing” when tragedies occur so often we tend to just ignore them.  For victims like Carolyn Tuft was wounded and lost her 15-year-old daughter in the Trolley Square shooting, it’s not that easy.

“It’s extremely frustrating, especially every time you see the news and another shooting happens,” Tuft said. “Like we could have done something. That could have been prevented. And it just keeps happening over and over and over….a moment of silence, prayers, and thoughts, you hear that so many times over and over, but it doesn’t bring our kids back. A moment of silence does not bring back my daughter.”

According to the Mass Shooting Tracker website, 296 people have been killed in mass shootings across the U.S. so far this year with another 1059 wounded.


Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.