Here we are again, another mass shooting, another school shooting. While many people are not able to conceivably understand what it is like to go through this experience or to have a loved one be involved in such an incident and wondering about their whereabouts, those who have experienced this first hand and survived will unquestionably have many difficulties along with much time for healing and recovery ahead of them.
With the most recent shooting in Parkland, it is a positive sign that media agencies are beginning to recognize the psychological impacts of these mass shootings. Yesterday when I was watching the news coverage, it resonated with me that the news was focusing on the aftermath of these events. Days, weeks, months, and years after the atrocity passes, those who survived and even loved ones of the deceased will continue to endure problems related to what happened yesterday in Parkland, Florida, and likewise so will the survivors of the 30 other shootings that occurred in 2018, and all those before these.
In the instance of school shootings, such as what took place yesterday in Parkland, Florida (not far from where we are here in Tampa), thousands of students are likely to have a difficult grieving and processing period ahead.
As a reminder, it is completely normal for all people to experience the symptoms of post traumatic stress immediately following a traumatic event. It is those who do not adequately process, think about what happen, talk to others about what happened, and let themselves feel their emotions who typically go on to develop a post dramatic stress response.
It is highly encouraged that in due time, these individuals reach out, obtain, and accept the support they need in order to begin to recover from what has happened. As a trauma specialist, it is incredibly important to me that information such as this is made available to these individuals and their families so they are aware what services are available and that most importantly, help that is out there.
During this time, it is incredibly helpful to not avoid how you are feeling and what you are thinking. Find others who you can openly speak with, and discuss what is on your mind. Share your fears, your heartache, anger, disgust, etc. Whatever it is, share it. Repressing your innermost thoughts and emotions does not make them disappear, but instead they are likely to intensify. If you have been personally impacted by the shooting, it is imperative that you allow yourself the time and emotional space to process what has happened.
Work with a Mental health Professional
Know that there are effective therapies that can greatly help during these times. My first suggestion is to speak to someone. There are crisis response therapists and therapists in the communities who are able and willing to help. Those who have been impacted by traumas such as mass shooting are highly encouraged to utilize these resources as one of the primary steps to coping and healing from what has happened, and with the long term intention of preventing this experience from deeply impacting their lives.
If you have been personally impacted by a mass shooting, or are still healing from a past traumatic experience, it is imperative that you seek help sooner rather than later. This is not to say that waiting for treatment reduces its efficacy, but you are likely to experience less pain and suffering the sooner that you reach out. There are excellent therapies that can help you to face what has happened in a safe and healthy manner, process it, and heal from it. Dr. Barbash is a trauma specialist who can help you to heal and regain your life after tragedy strikes.
Remember, trauma does not only happen in combat; trauma happens around us all the time. From natural disasters, to car accidents, to man-made large scale acts of hate, sexual assaults, etc., any life or bodily-integrity threatening situation is a traumatic experience that can lead to a post-trauma response.