Responding to Gun Violence
The American Psychological Association (APA) published the above article yesterday after the massacre in Las Vegas, the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. Most people feel numb, but some of my college students shared with me that they are growing calloused to the repeated news stories of death and destruction. Thinking that they may put protective coating on as a means of self-preservation, I asked more questions, and grew curious as to how a few of these young people seemed relatively unphased by the Las Vegas story. In discussing this horrible tragedy with my students, I told them not to accept such violent acts as normal...because they are NOT normal. However, one young man told me that to him, such horrific events ARE normal. He and several others students in the class agreed that their generation has grown up with this type of violence and such a climate IS NOW more the norm rather than the exception.
NO! Accepting such an unbalanced state of affairs cannot be the new normal. We, as a country, are better than that.
Other students, visibly disturbed, talked about how it could have been them or their loved ones having fun at a concert, in Vegas or anywhere else, and been ambushed. They feel threatened, unsafe, and insecure. Why shouldn't they be? Malls, churches, synagogues, movie theaters, nightclubs, baseball diamonds, concerts, schools, etc...? Where are the sacred places for these young people to live and thrive?
While I do not have answers to my own questions, I encourage everyone to think about the issues of public safety and to consider what may done to stop the senseless violence.
In the meantime, being upset, anxious, and depressed about such incidents seems appropriate. Seek help from a counselor, friends, family, and clergy. Rather than isolating to deal with the tragedy, spend time with people. And BREATHE! Deep breathing helps. The website for the Mind-Body Lab at the University of Texas at Austin provides recordings and exercises to help with intentional breathing.
Also, the CMHC Center website also addresses trauma. Some people need not be directly involved to experience trauma. Check out the page below to find tips on how best to deal with traumatic situations.