Social media users debate the effect of gun violence on mental health

On June 25, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy issued an advisory declaring that gun violence is a public health emergency and cited data demonstrating that gun violence negatively impacts mental health. Within hours, several news outlets covered the advisory, and conversations about it spread across multiple social media platforms. The official U.S. Surgeon General Instagram and X accounts shared a video of Murthy’s statement, and the posts received thousands of comments. Some social media users thanked Murthy for acknowledging the harms of gun violence, while others claimed that gun violence has no negative impact on mental health and said that Murthy should focus on other public health crises. One social media user wrote, “Fentanyl, obesity and alcohol account for nearly 10 times as many deaths in America as firearms we have an advisory of a public health crisis for those too? What the plan for those issues? They seem to be more detrimental to public safety.”

Recommendation: Trending conversations about gun violence and mental health provide an opportunity for health departments, community-based organizations, and other partners to push out messaging acknowledging the impact of gun violence on mental health and share specific resources for managing the effects of gun violence—such as the American Psychological Association’s guides for managing distress in the aftermath of a shooting and for helping children manage distress in the aftermath of a shooting. Sharing general mental health resources—including therapy; support groups; local mental health centers; and 988, the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline—is also recommended. Trending conversations about mental health also provide an opportunity to push out existing content and messaging that outlines mental health warning signs in adults and teens.