See You at School by Sherry Ma

There is a trending Youtube video called “Evan” that caught my eye very recently. In fact, this two-minute-and-28-second video clip had hundreds of views on December second, the day it was published. By the time I casually decided to watch it, I was totally not expecting how it actually turned out to be.

I strongly recommend you stop reading here and take the time to watch the video yourself. Here is the link: https://youtu.be/A8syQeFtBKc.

If I may ask, did you see the twist coming at all? I have to admit that I only focused on the romantic love story and completely ignored anything else. I was so stunned at the end that I got goosebumps when the guy showed up with a rifle in his hand. The white backlight behind him did not make him look like a hero, and the contrast that the light created with his shadow was absolutely horrifying; it sent chills down my spine. I could not help watching the video again after that shocking ending.
The second time I watched, I realized that everything was indeed all there. I could not believe that I completely missed the clearly troubled boy, even if the red-headed “main character” was purposely not placed in the center of the screen but rather to one side of it. The video is incredible, and its message about preventing gun violence is just so powerful and profound. Later, as I discovered from a person’s comment online, the singer who sang the seemingly relaxing background song in the video is in fact Shelby Lynne, who lost both of her parents at the age of 17 when her father shot her mother and then committed suicide. That was also the moment when I noticed the origin of this video, Sandy Hook Promise.
For those who do not recognize this organization’s name, Sandy Hook Promise is a nonprofit that has been advocating for the prevention of gun violence since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that took place on December 14, 2012, in Newtown, Connecticut. According to Wikipedia, “20-year-old Adam Lanza fatally shot 20 children aged between 6 and 7 years old, as well as six adult staff members. Prior to driving to the school, Lanza shot and killed his mother at their Newtown home. As first responders arrived at the scene, Lanza committed suicide by shooting himself in the head….The incident was the deadliest mass shooting at a high school or grade school in U.S. history and the third-deadliest mass shooting by a single person in U.S. history.” The shooting prompted renewed debate about gun control in the United States. It turned out that Lanza suffered from multiple disorders that eventually led to his severe psychiatric illness, and investigations showed he had been  fascinated with mass shootings from a young age. However, nobody had ever taken all these signs as seriously as they should have.
You might start to wonder: what does this video on gun violence prevention have to do with us at Catalina, where we live and learn in a relatively safe neighborhood? The more practical message we can get out of  “Evan” is exactly about “noticing the signs.” If you take a minute to think about it, the guy holding a rifle at the end of the video might have given up his insane idea of shooting, if only someone had noticed the red flags from him and realized he was not okay. The signs of him reading a magazine about guns or watching a video about guns in the library might not be sufficient to prove anything strange, and maybe neither is his inability to properly interact with people. However, did you notice that he was bullied by a group of people? Did you see his instagram picture of himself holding a gun with a caption, “See you at school”? What about the 56 likes and 0 comments he got for such an obvious warning sign? Even though this video is fictional, I am convinced that such chilling things are happening because such pictures would be considered “cool,” especially by teenagers. I understood such signs as indications from someone seeking help because it is not necessary to leave any indication out in public, and the poor guy was clearly not able to speak out for himself. Would it really be that difficult to do something about it? The shooting at the end is totally preventable, and perhaps, so was the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. We all know that history cannot be changed in reality, so instead of feeling sorry, why don’t we start doing something to prevent such tragedies from happening again?
In addition to physical wellness that we have already paid much attention to, mental health is surprisingly discussed about less often. According to Sandy Hook Promise, 80% of school shooters told someone of their plans to commit violence before taking action, yet no intervention takes place most of the time.

 

This short but profound public service announcement demonstrates how easy we can miss someone’s desperate SOS which can later develop into a catastrophe that nobody wants to see.

In fact, interventions are not as hard as you might imagine; if you actually recall the last time of yourself feeling upset, you might be able to realize how much a warm hug or simply a sincere “Are you okay?” can help. All you needed was some kind attention, right? Remember that deep care does not cost a single thing but only benefits others as well as yourself.
I will never forget the shock I got as I watched “Evan”, the most engaging educational film I have ever watched. It has truly opened my eyes and given me a new perspective on not only gun violence but also people’s internal struggles. If you miss the “signs” the first time just like me, that is okay, but remember that it is never too late to start taking action.

Sandy Hook was the sixteenth mass shooting of 2012, preceding fifteen others, including the “Batman Shooting” in which a man opened fire in a  crowded Colorado movie theatre, killing 12 and injuring 70.

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