Support Following a Shooting Tragedy

When we are impacted as a nation, a region and a community through such tragic mass violence, it can take a toll on each of us. In general, people are resilient and get through these difficult times. Events such as a mass shooting can create a sense of insecurity, a feeling of being unsafe and feelings of confusion, worry, grief and fear. This can trigger our own past trauma, grief and loss. If you identify as a member of a community impacted, you can feel even more overwhelmed with a variety of responses.

We encourage you to take steps to care for yourself, connect with others around you and, if needed, use the professional supports in our community:

Reach out and connect. Know that another person may also be thinking and feeling what you are. Remember that a wide range of feelings during these difficult times is common. Reach out and talk about it, even if it feels “small” or you are unsure about it. Talking can be very powerful. Maintain a sense of community through contact with family, friends and the people around you who provide community.

Make your self care a priority. Even as you are there for others, it is important to care for yourself, balancing emotional and physical rest and social interaction. Do things that help calm you, help you feel secure and centered and keep you on a routine. Maintain a sleeping and eating schedule even if you don’t feel like it. Exercise, listen to music, read a book, go for a walk, meditate or do whatever it is you do for self care. It is essential in the coping process. Continue activities that have provided relief in the past. This could include focusing on things that bring a sense of hope, meaning, security and comfort.

Be there for others who may need extra support. People of all ages, diverse experiences and intersectionalities may experience stress and traumatic reactions when exposed (even through media) to violence. Listen without judgment and follow up. Be aware that changes in eating and sleeping habits, energy level and mood are important signs of distress. When necessary, point individuals to professionals who can provide needed support.

Avoid overexposure to media. While it is important to stay informed, media portrayals of shootings and mass deaths have been shown to cause acute stress and post-traumatic stress symptoms. It is essential to limit the negative intake of information and to allow space and time to process the images and stories you are receiving. Limit your exposure and take a break from news and social media.

Connect with professional support as needed. Reach out to Counseling & Psychiatry if you need professional support. Counselors will see any student, faculty or staff member at no charge regardless of whether they are currently enrolled in classes. Call 803-777-5223. If a faculty or staff member would like to speak to a professional outside of the university, cal the Employee Assistance Program at 866-327-2400.

You are not alone. We are here for you.

Adapted from: American Counseling Association: www.counseling.org/knowledge-center/copingin-the-aftermath-of-a-shooting