The Psychological Impact of Disasters & Mass Casualty Events

It’s nearly been a week since the mass casualty event of the Astroworld Music Festival, but for those who suffered through it, the struggle may only have just started. With hundreds injured due to crowd surge and many more traumatized by their experience, we have to talk about the long-term psychological stress of mass disaster events. If we don’t, thousands could suffer prolonged consequences.

The Risk Factors for Long-Term PTSD After a Mass Casualty Incident

The good news is that stress responses to mass violence and disaster decrease over time, at least for most people. But those with specific risk factors could experience a more severe, longer-lasting response.

The risk factors for experiencing severe PTSD after a mass casualty event include:

  • The severity of the event: Injury, threat to life, and proximity to the violence are most predictive of poor functioning and psychological impairment up to a decade later.
  • Post-event adversity: Loss of employment, low income, and relationship problems can also prolong post-traumatic stress and major depression.
  • Demographic risk factors: Previous trauma, poverty, existing mental health issues, and age (40–60 is high-risk) are all risk factors for long-term PTSD after a mass casualty event.
  • Social support: Social support often deteriorates once the initial shock of a mass casualty event. People’s access to continuing support (either religious, social, or medical) is a factor in whether they’ll suffer long-term PTSD.

What the Astroworld Survivors May Be Facing

Regarding the “severity of the event,” the Astroworld mass casualty incident is unique in that thousands of people were close to (or victims of) the violence and chaos. Around 50,000 people attended Astroworld, many of them gathered to the stage for Travis Scott’s headlining set. Hundreds of people suffered crush injuries from the crowd surge, but thousands more have likely suffered trauma from getting caught in the crowd crush or witnessing a loved one get injured.

It’s even likelier that the people who suffered the worst injuries will end up losing their jobs, or at least suffer a drop in income. That added stress only inhibits the healing process, prolonging post-traumatic stress. The only way to prevent long-term PTSD for many of the Astroworld survivors is to provide for mental health support, loss of income, and medical care.

Our Astroworld injury lawyers are fighting for more than 100 people who were harmed at Astroworld. We’re going to do everything possible to ensure they get what they need while holding Live Nation, Travis Scott, and the other defendants responsible.

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