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Mental Health Amid Mass Shootings: Las Vegas

The deadliest mass shooting in modern American history took place on the night of October 1, 2017, the most recent incident in an epidemic of violence across the nation.

Whether you lived through the trauma yourself, are a relative of someone who did or witnessed the aftermath on the news or social media, it is crucial for everyone to understand their emotions and develop strategies to cope (“Supporting Victims In The Aftermath Of Mass Shootings,” HuffPost, October 2, 2017).

“The best thing you can do is to be present, gentle and supportive,” said Laurie Works, who survived a shooting attack 10 years ago that took the lives of her two sisters and wounded her father.

Realizing that all those affected by tragedies like the shooting in Las Vegas will be working through the effects of this experience for months and years to come is important. We often forget the massive impact of traumatic events because it’s as if the media “forgets.” When media moves on, it seems like the rest of the world does, too. But survivors of tragedies like these don’t have that luxury.

Works points to Mental Health First Aid’s 5-step action plan, ALGEE, as a resource on how to provide that support:

Approach, assess and assist with any crisis
Listen non-judgmentally
Give support and information
Encourage appropriate professional help
Encourage other supports

ALGEE not only teaches people what to do when confronted with a mental health challenge or crisis, it also teaches how to do it. Mental Health First Aid focuses on conveying empathy while communicating, something that Works says is vital for everyone affected by mass shootings.

“If you are a secondary victim, your experience is no less important or impactful than if you were a primary victim,” Works also makes clear.

As friends, neighbors, parents and community members, we must know how to support those affected by calamities like the Las Vegas shooting. We must be sensitive to their needs – both mental and physical – and we must be there to listen. Not just today, and not just while they’re in the spotlight of the media, but for as long as they need our support.

Be a supportive member of your community for those who may need help.

The Red Cross has also set up a free Disaster Distress Helpline for 24/7 counseling. You can reach it by phone at 800-985-5990 or you can text “TalkWithUs” to 66746.