This is a country full of traumatized persons who are experiencing varying degrees of PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). PTSD is a direct result of trauma — trauma from childhood abuse, family violence, sexual assaults and rapes, bullying, stalking, school shootings and mass killings.

Even doctors, nurses, EMTs, law enforcement, firefighters, military veterans and so many others experience trauma while on the job. Any trauma can cause off-and-on episodes of PTSD throughout a person’s lifetime. The subconscious stores away the trauma experience because it is so emotionally painful.

Survivors of the Columbine school shooting are currently in crisis. Some are committing suicide; others are cutting themselves or are using drugs or alcohol to numb their painful memories. Survivors of all the other shootings will face the same problem in the future.

Everyone has a responsibility in helping our communities to heal and to feel safe. We need to create a peaceful, kind, caring and accepting community.

People need to put their incessant judgments away and open their hearts and minds to the hidden pain that is all around.

If people are acting out in some way, it is because they are hurting inside themselves.

We must stop punishing and start helping people to rebuild their lives.

Brielle Daniels, Lewiston