Dealing with the Aftermath of a Mass Shooting

It’s back to school time, and many of us are sending our kids off with backpacks stuffed to the brim. It seems to be a little more somber drop-off, as we listen to news stories about the recent mass shootings in Texas and Ohio.

We are left wondering how we process such events? And do we talk to our children about these events as they head into a new school year?

How to talk to your kids about it

In an article on Psychology Today, suggestions are to plan out a conversation with your kids ahead of time. Having certain talking points can help you answer your children’s questions confidently. Making sure you are taking the time to focus on them, and what they might be feeling is key in keeping the anxiety and worry low while heading back into the school hallways.

Our take: An interview from Dr. Melissa Estavillo

Our very own Dr. Melissa Estavillo did an interview yesterday for KTAR News about this topic as well. She states that talking to your kids, “needs to be age-appropriate. Giving too much information can cause a lot of anxiety and fear, and that’s not the goal.”

She goes on to say that letting our children know we need to be prepared for certain situations and that practicing drills and being aware of our surroundings, can help keep them safe.

How can we start to process these shootings?

While it seems easy to say these acts of violence stem from people who have poor mental health, experts warn to tread lightly when using mental illness as a scapegoat.

It’s logical to deduce that psychological issues play a part in gun violence. However, the issue can and does go way beyond the perpetrator’s mental state. It should force our society to look at several different factors including access to guns, social and political context, individual psychological distress, access to mental health providers etc.

Trying to stay open to possibilities of “why”

It’s hard to be open to alternative thoughts when a mass shootings has just occurred. We (as a society) feel immediate fear and anger and point the finger directly at the individual or beliefs of the individual. But to say that guns are to blame, or the individual themselves is to blame, is to ignore many other variables we may never have the answers to.

During these tough times it is okay to take a break from the constant negative news real. It’s okay to take a moment for yourself to feel all the emotions you need to feel.

Dr. Estavillo weighs in on AZ Family Channel 3 and 5

Check our Dr. Melissa Estavillo’s on-air interview with AZ Family, as she talks about background checks and mental health after mass shootings.

While she agrees that there is something “not right” with the perpetrator, she also thinks that isolation and poor social skills are more likely the culprits. Click here to see her interview.

What now?

After these terrible events happen, we can find ourselves dealing with a lot of emotions. We can feel fear, anxiety, depression, hopelessness and much more.

According to the American Psychological Association, there are a few things you can do to manage your distress.

  1. Talk about it: talking about it and sharing your experience can help you and your family feel less alone. It also creates a platform for opportunities to learn, educate, and help those impacted by the tragedy.
  2. Strive for balance: it’s easy to cross over to the pessimistic side when shootings occur, but trying to remain hopeful and striving for a meaningful balance in your life is important.
  3. Take a break: turning off the tv or the radio, and getting off social media are just a few things you can do to take a break from the constant information about the shooting.
  4. Honor your feelings: know that you are not alone. Everyone has an emotional reaction to these events, and it’s okay to feel sad, angry, exhausted, lost.
  5. Take care of yourself: take a walk. Surround yourself with positive friends and family, or write in your journal. Take some time for self-care right now.
  6. Help others: if you’re in the same area, reach out to victims or family of victims and lend a hand. Donate items of clothing or food to the survivors and their families. Reach out to your local community and legislature to ask what you can do to stop these episodes from happening.
  7. Seek help: reach out to a mental health provider in your area to help you process what you’re feeling and what is happening.