Austin Eubanks was 17 when he was shot twice and watched his best friend die at Columbine High School — and he has a message for other survivors.
“It’s so important after you experience a tragedy like this to find the courage to lean into the pain. Rely on your community. Seek out others who have been through this before.” Eubanks explained. “On the day of the shooting, I had walked into the hallway to meet my best friend in order to go to lunch. We walked into the library in order to meet others. It was my best friend who first said it sounds like gunshots and we all immediately dismissed it. Because we were at school. And there’s 2 places in life you’re always told you’re safe growing up and that’s home and school.”
He then turned to drugs and alcohol to numb his pain after the incident and developed addictions that took him the next 12 years to overcome. He explained he wanted to do whatever he could to numb the pain. But he doesn’t want other survivors to have to go what he went through, and is urging them not to run from their pain.
“With emotional pain, in order to heal it, you have to feel it. It’s not like a physical injury that you can medicate and still recover. In order to heal emotional pain, you have to be present and you have to go through the stages of grief.” Eubanks stated.