Coping with national tragedies

NOW: Coping with attacks and disasters

PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- By now you most likely have heard about the tragic mass shooting in Las Vegas Sunday evening.  It is the deadliest mass shooting in the nation's modern history. Many people have spent Monday trying to cope with the senseless act. This comes during what feels like a period of brutal headline after brutal headline.

"It's devastating," Savannah Elwell, of Portland, said. Elwell has friends in Las Vegas who were not harmed in Sunday's shooting, but she says it still hits close to home. 

"People out there are just struggling to survive. We're all one country and we all should be bonding together."

Experts say the way you may have responded to Monday morning's devastating headline depends on the way you deal with trauma.

We talked to two mental health experts from Maine Monday, less than 24 hours after the shooting. Both John O'Brien and Jeffrey Barkin had similar advice for moving forward after a national tragedy.

O'Brien says events like the shooting in Las Vegas can affect you mentally, even if you or a loved one aren't directly affected.

"For some people who may have lost a loved one to gun violence, this may trigger an intense reaction that would require them to get support of some kind," O'Brien said, "whether from their minister or perhaps to seek counseling."

Barkin, who has been a psychiatrist for more than 20 years says tragedies like these are nothing new.

"Violence, aggression, and tragedies have been rampant throughout history."

However, Barkin believes in times of distress people can find solace in numbers. He says people have a better chance of coping in groups than trying to do it on their own. Some find it helpful to have an open dialogue with folks in their communities.

"The single best thing I think any of us can do, and you saw this during the national response after 9/11, was communities come together and talk."

This week is also Mental Health Awareness Week. It's important to highlight issues of mental health, not only when the headlines are grim, but all year long. 

 

 

© 2017 WCSH-TV


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