Sunday, August 4, 2019

10 Resources To Help in the Aftermath of a Mass Shooting

Another day, another two mass shootings.  I could hardly believe my news feed this morning when I woke up to see that not only was there a mass shooting yesterday in El Paso, but another mass shooting over night in Ohio.  I could ask "what is this world coming to?" but no one would like the answer. 

For those who are impacted by such a traumatic event, there are usually several resources to help afterwards.  Note that you don't have to actually be a victim of the mass shooter to be impacted by such an event.  I know first responders who were on scene during the Columbine mass shooting 20 years ago and these events stir up renewed trauma for them even after all of these years have passed.  There is no shame in asking for help when you need help, and there are several resources available to help after such an event...
  1. The federal government has a "Post Mass Shooting Resource Book" available here.
  2. Community response agencies usually set up incident-specific resource centers which are open to victims as well as the general public.  Simply Google the name of the event and resources and several links should show up (examples here for the Vegas shooting and here for the Gilroy shooting).
  3. The SAMHSA Disaster Distress Hotline can be found here.
  4. Follow social media (Twitter, Facebook, etc) of local response agencies such as the local police department, the local fire department, the local Red Cross, etc.  Information on local post-incident resources is often shared through these channels.
  5. If you want to help (doing something to help others can often be cathartic), consider donating blood at the local blood bank, donating to the local Red Cross or other response agencies, donating to Go Fund Me campaigns (make sure the campaign you donate to is legit and not a scam; scammer come out of the woodwork during events like this), or helping those on the front lines (after the Vegas mass shooting people brought food to first responders, donated water to those standing in line to donate blood, set up prayer vigils, etc).
  6. The Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be found here and the Veteran's Crisis Line can be found here.  If you are in immediate crisis, you can always call 911 or check yourself into a hospital; some people prefer to talk or text with someone who is trained in helping which is where these crisis line services come in.
  7. Many states have Crime Victim's Assistance organizations that can provide resources and even financial assistance to victims of violent crimes, including mass shootings.  Example here.
  8. Contact your physician for a referral to a mental health specialist who deals with PTSD.  There are many resources available online which address all facets of PTSD, here is a place to start.
  9. Connect with others.  Often victims want to isolate themselves after a traumatic event but connecting with others--attending prayer vigils, seeking out grief counseling groups for survivors, talking about the incident with others who had the same experience--can be very beneficial (info on these groups is usually posted on local newspaper websites and government agency websites as well as on their social media pages).
  10. For first responders (law enforcement, EMS, hospital personnel, etc), there are many resource available after an incident (with, fortunately, less stigma for those seeking help than there used to be).  CISM teams are usually available on-site or on-call after an incident, the Code Green Campaign is specifically geared to help first responders after any kind of traumatic incident, and the First Responder Support Network also has resources designed to help.

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