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Local Exposure to School Shootings and Youth Antidepressant Use

Dec 2019
Working Paper
19-036
By  Maya Rossin-Slater, Molly Schnell, Hannes Schwandt, Sam Trejo, Lindsey Uniat
While over 240,000 American students experienced a school shooting in the last two decades, little is known about the impacts of these events on the mental health of surviving youth. Using large-scale prescription data from 2006 to 2015, we examine the effects of 44 school shootings on youth antidepressant use in a difference-in-difference framework. We find that local exposure to fatal school shootings increases youth antidepressant use by 21.4 percent in the following two years. These effects are smaller in areas with a higher density of mental health providers who focus on behavioral, rather than pharmacological, interventions.