Seek Change, Schedule Now

We hope you had a wonderful fourth of July with your friends and family! Walking outside in Brooklyn, we could smell the barbecues, hear the laughter, and see a lot of happy faces.

It’s also a good time to ask a question that we ask twice every year: why are we still doing fireworks?

Working with Trauma

It’s true that fireworks can be very beautiful. Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks are often some of the best in the United States. Some of us have memories of our first ever large scale fireworks displays. Those of us from other states may have also lit our own fireworks in our backyards with friends and family.

But most of us are not wowed by fireworks anymore, and – unless you have a front row seat – they’re really more like little lights in the distance. The majority of us do not even attend fireworks displays, choosing instead to watch them on TV or ignore them altogether.

So, as therapists, we have to ask: do we really need fireworks?

People with post-traumatic stress disorder – including, if not especially, veterans of the armed forces, are often triggered by fireworks. In one of the great “ironies” of fireworks displays, some of the very people that many of us pay respect to on July 4th are those that have severe anxiety, stress, and sometimes even emotional breakdowns as a result of fireworks displays.

There are already many questions about the value of fireworks.

  • Fireworks release dangerous particles in the atmosphere.
  • They can cause injury or even death when mishandled.
  • They keep people awake at night.
  • They are expensive, at a time when income inequality and social service investments are down.
  • They have led to fires, a risk that is even more common now that the climate is changing.

But the fact that they also trigger traumatic episodes in shooting survivors, veterans, and others that have experienced trauma, it may be time to really sit down and think about whether or not fireworks are still a necessity for our more enlightened society. Fireworks can be beautiful. But there are many other options available as well, and the loud noise, pollution, and psychological consequences of fireworks may no longer be worth it. It may be time to consider alternative options for our mental health.

Skip to content