Those who survived what was the second-deadliest mass shooting in the United States were left with a myriad of mental health problems that continue to haunt them even today.
Nine years ago, on December 14, 2012, 20-year-old Adam Lanza walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, and massacred 20 first-graders and six educators before eventually killing himself. Those who survived the massacre—the second-deadliest mass shooting in the United States—were left with a myriad of mental health problems that continue to haunt them even today. The youngest among them have recently entered high school and like most of their peers, they are active on TikTok. However, unlike the majority of high schoolers, their videos tell a disturbing tale of the lasting effects of gun violence.
>> Before photos of the dead, Maggie LaBanca, a Sandy Hook survivor, speaks at National Vigil for All Victims of Gun Violence in DC.— Mike Valerio (@MikevWUSA) December 9, 2021
She was 8 years old when her best friend was killed. Survivors are speaking across from US Capitol.
They ask, “anyone listening?” @NewtownAction pic.twitter.com/twEZlN7bk1
One of these survivors recently posted a TikTok video that's been viewed over 2.1 million times in which she shares how she feels after the past nine years. Using a scene from the popular animated series 'BoJack Horseman', TikTok user @kaliahelise.spam expresses that she doesn't feel okay even after all these years, despite others telling her that things would go back to normal in no time. The scene Kaliah chose for the video is one from the penultimate episode of the adult animated tragicomedy sitcom that has explored many heavy topics over the course of its six seasons.
Our VP of Organizing @MaishaFields joined survivors of gun violence for @NewtownAction's 9th National Vigil for All Victims of Gun Violence.— Brady | United Against Gun Violence (@bradybuzz) December 9, 2021
Survivors honored their loved ones and demanded common-sense solutions to end this epidemic.https://t.co/Spl4rYUW4f
In this particular scene, BoJack and another character named Herb Kazzaz discuss death as Kaliah mouths along to both parts. "Is it... terrifying?" BoJack asks while the text overlay describes how the teen relates to the scene as a survivor of the mass shooting. "Me after going through the Sandy Hook school shooting in Kindergarten wondering if everything will be okay again," the text reads. Meanwhile, Kazzaz responds: "No, I don't think so. It's the way it is, you know? Everything must come to an end, the drip finally stops." Kaliah compares this statement to everyone telling her "it'll be okay and things will be back to normal in no time."
As schools in our district are on high alert following threats, I am enraged by images being circulated that attempt to normalize children with weapons made for carnage.— Joshua Weishart (@joshuaweishart) December 8, 2021
In their memory, I'm sharing instead the victims of the Sandy Hook massacre, 9 years ago this month. pic.twitter.com/tPOiWY374D
"See you on the other side," says Bojack, reflecting the hopefulness of kindergarten-age Kaliah who waited "for the day things would get better." Unfortunately, that never happened, the teen revealed. "Oh, BoJack, no. There is no other side. This is it," says Kazzaz as the text overlay reads: "Me now a freshman in high school and it hasn't gotten better." The video ends with Kaliah visibly upset even as she mouths along with the audio. In a comment, the teen revealed that she recently started seeing a therapist and has been looking into EMDR therapy. She also explained that she shared the video to help people understand why the United States desperately needs change.
Her video also made an impact on Twitter after it was shared by @indigogloves who wrote: "The Sandy Hook kids are in high school now and they be on TikTok talking about how unwell they are after all this time. That makes me wanna throw up. These poor babies. Shooters and politics aside, children all across this country are traumatized daily by gun violence whether it’s in school, at home, or on the street. And the same people who be all 'what about the children' are the reason they're traumatized. I hate it here... One of the moms of a deceased Sandy Hook victim tweeted that a lot of the kids who survived had massive survivors guilt. At that young age? I cannot imagine."