Our Culture Of Violence and the Trauma Of Gun Violence
The horrendous mass shooting that took place in Las Vegas, Sunday, October 1st, has gun violence in the forefront of hot topics regarding national issues that must be addressed. It is possible that you will be affected by gun violence in some way during your lifetime, no matter which side of the gun debate you are on.
- Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that on an average day, 93 Americans are killed with guns.
Ninety-three people die violently every day in our country at the hand of a gun. The number alone is shocking, but when you consider all the people affected by each violent death and the trauma caused to each one, it is a sobering thought. That number is, surely, astronomical! How do we even begin to figure it? The immediate family, extended family, friends, classmates, and co-workers are all victims of violence, each left to deal with varying degrees of grief, anger, depression, fear or any combination thereof.
- For every one person killed with guns, two more are injured.
This statistic is also from the CDC. Not only do we have the ripple effect of trauma victims; there is also the horror lived (and re-lived) by the gun shot victim that survives. The love and support of family and friends is irreplaceable in the recovery process. The rigor of physical recovery is daunting enough, but the mental aspect is also something that must be addressed. Working through the array of negative feelings caused by the incident is imperative for recovery. And when the injury itself is life changing, it can at times become unbearable.
WRLN, Miami, produced a digital series on the young survivors (children and teenagers) of gun violence. It focused on the trauma they suffered and where they are now, years later. Melisa Olivia, pediatric psychiatrist at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, counsels young gunshot victims. She stated that the risk to young people's mental health is greater if they have suffered an injury that doesn't allow them to return to their "regular" life. There is a higher risk of anxiety, post traumatic stress, and depression. Some survivors also suffer with sleeplessness, nervousness, panic attacks, nightmares, and thoughts of suicide.
These disorders affect adult victims of gun violence, too.
How do we help those we know and love suffering in the aftermath of something so traumatic? According to PsychGuides.com, just asking that question is a step in the right direction. You care enough to seek answers. The most important thing you can do, is to encourage your friend or relative to seek professional help.
Dealing with traumatic events is a process to work through. It may seem like one step forward and two steps back at times. When talking with them, be prepared to really listen to the feelings they are expressing. Or, perhaps, sitting in companionable silence is the plan. That's okay, too. During the tough days, reassure them that the healing process takes time.
Ultimately, let's give them hope.
The 4th Annual RISE Festival was held in Overton, NV, the weekend of October 6th, 2017. People come together to rise above by writing their hopes and dreams on paper lanterns and releasing them, simultaneously, into the night sky. This year, the event was dedicated to those affected by the Las Vegas tragedy. Along with positive messages for those coping with the aftermath of the vicious attack, #VegasStrong could be seen written across many of the 15,000 lanterns that lit the desert night in the breathtaking display. A stunning symbol of hope for all to see.
No matter what the issue, hope for a brighter future is possible through counseling. Contact me today and together we will work through the negative issues that are holding you down. Helping you find happiness where you are in life is a goal I take very seriously.