Washington — Following is a statement by Frank C. Worrell, PhD, president of the American Psychological Association, in response to the mass shooting at the Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo, New York:
“The American Psychological Association stands against racism and hate in all forms. This horrific hate crime struck people in a place that was intended to be a welcoming space, shattering families and the community’s sense of safety.
“Violence rooted in racism and hate has become much too common in our society. We must resist becoming numb to these acts of violence when what we need is a commitment to eliminate racism and discrimination, enact stronger gun laws and encourage more dialogue. Otherwise, we are condoning a culture that is not working to combat racial bias grounded in misinformation. Without collective action on these issues, we should not be surprised when the result is hate and violence. In a society that values all of its members, disagreements should result in dialogue, not acts of violence.
“In the past few decades, many prominent psychologists of color have studied the effects of racial trauma, and how it leads to higher rates of depression, anxiety and stress. It has also been linked to post-traumatic stress disorder, substance use disorders and other serious psychological conditions. Experiences of racism build on each other and, over time, chip away at the emotional, physical and spiritual resources of people of color and other targets of bias.
“In Buffalo, guns were used in support of an individual’s racist and antisemitic beliefs. The same weekend, guns were used in mass shootings in Texas, Wisconsin and California. And in 2022, there have already been at least 198 mass shootings. APA has long advocated for gun safety, including background checks of prospective gun buyers, safe gun storage, laws implementing extreme risk protection orders and more research into the psychological factors that lead to gun violence.
“In the wake of these violent acts, the American Psychological Association recommends that individuals experiencing persistent symptoms of distress seek help from a trained mental health professional. We also recommend that people limit their exposure and that of their children to media coverage of these shootings.”