Coping Tips After Recent Mass Shootings
After events like the recent mass shootings in Gilroy, El Paso, and Dayton, people may have feelings of fear, anxiety, grief, and helplessness. These are all normal feelings after this type of event. Something like this is upsetting for everyone. People near the emergency are affected, as well as people all over the country who may have family in the areas; who may know someone who was affected; or people who are watching the media coverage of this tragic situation.
Children are especially at risk as they may become afraid that the event will happen again, or that they or someone in their family may be injured or killed. The injuries and fatalities are difficult for them to understand. How a parent or other adult reacts around the child following a traumatic event can determine how quickly and completely the child recovers.
This is difficult to understand why something like this happens and it’s important for people to connect with and support each other. The Red Cross offers the following tips to help people stay strong:
- Events like this can cause feelings of uncertainty and anxiety since no one knows what could potentially happen next. Remember that it’s okay to feel nervous.
- Stay informed but limit media exposure of the events, especially for children. Children are especially vulnerable to stress reactions related to media.
- Parents should let children talk about their fears and then reassure them about their safety. Talk with them in ways that they can easily understand. Let them guide the conversation; share details only when they ask about them.
- Be patient with yourself and others. It’s common to have any number of temporary stress reactions such as anger, frustration, and anxiety.
- Spend more time with family and friends and offer your support. Hug one another and listen.
- Watch for signs of stress in your family, friends, and children. Get help from others if needed.
- Take care of yourself. Eat healthy, drink plenty of water, and get enough rest.
- To reach out for free 24/7 crisis counseling or support, contact the Disaster Distress Helpline at (800) 985-5990 (press 2 for Spanish) or (800) 846-6815 (TTY) or text the Disaster Distress Helpline at text ‘TalkWithUs’ or ‘Hablanos’ (for Spanish) to 66746.
- Be Red Cross Ready: Taking Care of Your Emotional Health after a Disaster (PDF | 307 KB)—This fact sheet from the American Red Cross explains normal reactions to a disaster, what a survivor can do to cope with these emotions, and where to seek additional help if needed.
- Tips for Survivors of a Disaster or Other Traumatic Event: Managing Stress (PDF | 1.8 MB)—This SAMHSA tip sheet gives stress prevention and management tips for dealing with the effects of trauma, mass violence, or terrorism. It lists tips to relieve stress, describes how to know when to seek professional help, and provides accompanying resources. This tip sheet is also available in Spanish (PDF | 314 KB).
- Coping With Grief After Community Violence (PDF | 1 MB)—This SAMHSA tip sheet introduces some of the signs of grief and anger after an incident of community violence, provides useful information about to how to cope with grief, and offers tips for helping children deal with grief.