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Students examine mental health and gun violence Robert Moreno | Sat, Dec 21 2013 12:00 PM

Having friends and family members victimized by gun violence, 45 students at High Tech High Chula Vista are doing what they can to save lives from gun violence.

“Beyond the Cross Fire” is part of the project-based learning that is installed at High Tech High, where students spend most of their days working on projects that deal with issues plaguing society.

Their latest project is filming a documentary, “Beyond the Crossfire,” that is aimed at curbing gun violence in America by focusing on school reform and mental health issues.

“We’re not trying to focus on gun control or gun rights,” said junior Carlo Gomez. “It’s more of looking at the root causes of gun violence.”

The novice filmmakers are researching how to help people with mental health issues so that they don’t resort to gun violence.

Carlo said mental health and gun violence correlate with each other, and the group wants to find the warning signs of what could lead to a mass shooting.

The group is also studying the way the human brain works, he said.

The students have researched the 1999 mass shooting at Columbine High School. Carlo said their research shows that the shooters showed signs of mental health issues.

According to the National Crime Victimization Survey, conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 467,321 people were victims of a crime committed with a firearm in 2011. Statistics show that firearms were used in 68 percent of murders nationwide.

“It just feels like it’s becoming more and more frequent,” said Ciera Ybarra, a student working on the project. “There are just so many personal connections to the issue, it really made everyone passionate about making a documentary about gun violence.”

The class dedicates the documentary to former High Tech High student Sean Fuchs, who was killed in 2011, along with his little brother Kyle, by their father in a murder-suicide.

Two teachers are supervising the students on the project. One of them, Ms. Nuvia, had her best friend lose a daughter in the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy.

Carlo lost two uncles to gun violence.

Ciera had a relative die because of guns just before she was born.

To fund the documentary, the class started a Kickstarter campaign that launched on Oct. 30. The goal was to raise $18,000. As of Dec. 11, $26,631 has been raised.

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