"PTSD is a sense of vulnerability to danger around every corner," says Rothbaum of Emory University. "Even if that particular assailant is no longer a potential threat, people often feel they have seen the dark side and that it can strike again anytime, anywhere. I have seen people become afraid of and avoid situations that had nothing to do with the original event due to their sense of vulnerability, like becoming scared of flying after a sexual assault."
An analysis of late 1980s and '90s U.S. shooting survivors suggests that many of those who lived through the recent events in Wisconsin and Colorado will develop PTSD .
In 2008 North, the VA crisis psychiatrist, compiled data from four mass shootings in the U .S. Of 222 subjects, 19 percent were classified as having PTSD , with symptoms ranging from nightmares to amnesia to increased cautiousness. The rate varied depending on how much brutality witnesses were exposed to, but North says we’re likely to see a similar number of PTSD cases among recent survivors in Aurora and Oak Creek .
For this more severely afflicted population it may not matter whether a killer dies on the scene. The object of their horror is no longer one man, but the entire world.
For those survivors of the Oak Creek massacre who do not develop PTSD, recovery may come more swiftly without Wade Page around.