The recent acts of mass violence in Buffalo, NY and Uvalde, TX have brought feelings of stress and discomfort to many, whether locally or from a distance. It’s normal to be fearful during times of uncertainty, instability and violence, as it is an expected reaction to these incidents. However, it is important to not let feelings of fear and stress overwhelm your life.
Feelings of distress following mass violence or disaster cannot be resolved by a simple fix, but there are some important principles to remember:
You don’t have to talk when you don’t feel like it. Survivors sometimes do better when they are given space. If you are the loved one of a survivor, respect the survivor’s desire not to talk if that is what they want. Give them space, and check back later.
Give it time. Resilience means that you bounce back in time; it doesn’t mean that you never feel the impact of traumatic events. Learning to accommodate the things you experience is a continual and potentially lengthy process.
Talk when you need to; listen when you can. It sometimes helps to hear the perspectives of other people who share your values and experiences. Take what helps, and leave the rest.
Social support is key. Positive social support plays a crucial role in helping people recover from threats, trauma and adversity. Reconnect with those you feel closest to, or reach out to others who have had similar experiences or who are caring and wise.
There’s no “right way” to deal with these things. Everyone needs to find the way that works for them, and be patient in applying simple, ongoing strategies.
Coping After Mass Violence: Long-Term Needs
Most people who experience mass violence directly or through contact with affected colleagues or loved ones will recover. Having strong reactions in the immediate aftermath does not mean that you will have symptoms forever. People who were injured, have experienced prior trauma, lost someone they knew or were present when the violence happened are more likely to have long-term reactions. Recovering may take time, and it may require you to learn how to adapt in new ways. What you need in the long term may be different from what helped you immediately after the event.
Behavioral Health Systems is the parent company of Safety First. BHS offers Mental Health and Substance Abuse benefits to employers along with Employee Assistance Programs.