Guys I’m so f*cking scared. Please stay safe. I wish these never happened. I love you. Please pray for us. Someone is already shot. I haven’t heard anything yet. Do you hear shooting? I’m so scared. Please send literally anything. These are just some of the text messages students received and sent during a more-than-three-hour shooting lockdown at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus on Aug. 28. On Aug. 30, The Daily Tar Heel, UNC’s campus newspaper, covered its front page with them.
The school shooting left students and staff shocked within the second week of the academic year, as unveiled by the Tar Heel reporters following the lockdown. According to the newspaper’s account, a UNC graduate student was arrested for killing his advisor at Caudill Laboratories and possessing a firearm on campus.
Covered in black and red text color, the gut-wrenching text messages cascade down the front page of the paper. This image post went viral on X (also known as Twitter) on Aug. 29. Caitlyn Yeade, The Daily Tar Heel’s print managing editor, shared the front page saying, “I shed many tears while typing up these heart-wrenching text messages sent and received by UNC students yesterday … Beyond proud of this cover and the team behind it.”
These powerful words are brilliant yet horrifying. It’s hard to even imagine what the students, faculty, and families must be feeling right now. For many, their worst fear is to receive similar texts from a loved one.
According to Everytown for Gun Safety, as of Aug. 30, there have been over 85 recorded instances of gunfire on school grounds in 2023. These distressing events have led to the loss of 26 lives and left 57 individuals injured. How much longer will our nation continue to exploit and desensitize the real problem?
And it’s even more unfortunate when this impacts young individuals who may not own cell phones or have the means to text. They are completely unaware of the situation and the gravity of what they are going through.
So is it these painful yet powerful words from collegiate students that will finally spark a chance? Who wants “thoughts and prayers” when there should be policy and initiative?
It’s difficult to predict the outcomes ahead, let alone navigate through an incident that felt like hours of torture, leaving students unsure of how to process everything they’ve witnessed. Rather than asking “how many more,” explore how you can truly make a difference and offer your support, such as advocating for comprehensive background checks and mental health support, as well as supporting community-based programs aimed at conflict resolution to help address the issue of gun violence effectively.
If you or someone you know is seeking help for mental health concerns, visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) website, or call 1-800-950-NAMI(6264). For confidential treatment referrals, visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website, or call the National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP(4357). In an emergency, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK(8255) or call 911.