Stephen Benning, a UNLV psychology professor and researcher, has launched a study aimed at understanding how people are reacting emotionally to the tragedy at the Route 91 country music festival.
The mass shooting on Oct. 1 left 58 people dead, hundreds wounded and scores traumatized, including many from the UNLV community.
Benning said the study will examine how people’s stories of the tragedy are associated with symptoms of traumatic stress and depression as well as their personality traits, growth from trauma, and beliefs about the traumatic event.
“We think that the way people tell their stories may be related to the levels of post-traumatic stress and depression symptoms they exhibit,” Benning said.
Benning developed the study a week after the shooting. “One goal of the study is to give people a place to tell their stories and process what has happened,” he said.
Early results have found that almost 18 percent of Las Vegas residents who weren’t at the Route 91 Harvest Festival when the mass shooting occurred are at risk of developing symptoms of PTSD. That compares with 53 percent of those who did attend.
In Las Vegas, Benning said, it’s possible that the risk of PTSD could become exaggerated by citywide reminders of the shooting — marquees displaying the words “Vegas Strong” or “pray for Vegas” broadcast on the radio, for example. For others, though, those symbols could offer comfort, he said.