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Report: What stresses out Generation Z? Gun violence

“You never know when it could happen or where you could be."

DENVER — Editor's note: 9NEWS Mornings is touching on the stresses that tend to impact people within certain generations for our Generation Stressed week, Feb. 4-Feb. 8.

The possibility of a mass shooting is one of the top stresses for Generation Z, the age group born in 1996 or later, according to a recent report by the American Psychological Association. 

The Harris Poll conducted the survey online in August 2018 on behalf of the APA. It polled 3,458 respondents ages 18-plus living in the United States and collected sample interviews among teens ages 15 to 17. The report said that 75 percent of Gen-Zers consider mass shootings as a significant source of stress.

Amber Henry, a ninth-grade student at Alameda International Junior-Senior High School said the likelihood of a school shooting is low but the possibility of one happening is still a major concern.

“You never know when it could happen or where you could be," she said. "You never know who the shooter could be.”

Susie Van Scoyk, the Principal at Alameda International Junior-Senior High School said the possibility of gun violence weighs on her mind too

“I would say it’s probably one of the top stressors for the adults that work in schools as well," Scoyk said. "And that’s from secretaries, custodians, that’s all the way up to administrators.”

The definition of “mass shooting,” is four or more killed (excluding the shooter) in a public place. It does not count domestic violence cases that take place in the home nor do they include gang-related violence.

There were more than 300 mass shootings in the United States last year.

RELATED | 307 mass shootings reported in the U.S.

Scoyk said Alameda International Junior-Senior High School performs lockdown drills once a semester to practice for a dangerous situation inside the school.

“We are required to do those at least once a semester," she said. "I like to do an additional one that’s unannounced and during a kind of chaotic time in the school day because we know that that’s when these types of situations happen.”

The APA research also shows 36 percent of Gen-Zers have increased stress levels when they take part in security measures to prepare for an active shooter.

Bev Marquez, CEO of the Rocky Mountain Crisis Partners, said Generation Z is being exposed to more school shooting preparations than other generations.

“What we know is that violence and preparing for it and experiencing it will become a fabric in the life of this generation," Marquez said. "Where before it wasn’t necessarily on the previous generation's radar.“

Marquez said it’s still unclear whether there is a traumatic impact years later but said she thinks there is. She said she feels it’s important that schools make security drills age appropriate and suggests parents be involved in the conversation to help the younger children understand the importance and likelihood of such an event happening.

In that same research, 45 percent of those in Gen Z reported “excellent” or “very good” mental health, compared to 56 percent of Millennials, 51 percent of Gen X, 70 percent of Boomers and 74 percent of adults older than 73.

The report also shows that 27 percent of Gen Z respondents declared their mental health “fair” or “poor.” More than 90 percent of Gen Z adults said they had felt physical or emotional symptoms, such as depression or anxiety, associated with stress.

The way this age group seeks help is transforming too. In response to a wave of teen suicides, the Colorado Crisis Center launched “Below the Surface. ”It’s a statewide youth suicide prevention campaign targeting teens between 13 and 17.

Daniel Skubic, a Colorado Crisis Services Counselor, said it’s a free text line that connects Generation Z with around the clock counselors.

“We are talking to these texters much differently than an adult or a mental health professional will,” said Skubic. “We don’t use clinical terms – we’re not writing in full sentences and being very prim and proper. We really try to meet texter with what language they are using. Spelling emojis and stuff like that. That allows us to build a closer alliance with them.”

Through text, counselors may offer assessments, safety plans, and give referrals. If you need help the Colorado Crisis Services is available 24/7 – call 1-844-493-TALK. Youth can text “TALK” to 38255 to speak with a trained counselor 24/7 

Despite high levels of stress and frustration with the national and political climate, 75 percent of all respondents said they feel hopeful about their future.

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