About Gun Violence
Gun violence is a public health crisis that threatens the physical and mental health of our communities. If you’re struggling to find ways to cope, you’re not alone. Everyone has a different experience in traumatic events. And, whether it’s experiencing gun violence firsthand, or learning about it in the news, there is likely a strong emotional reaction that negatively impacts mental wellbeing.
Difficult emotions can come up relative to gun violence in so many ways: grieving over a personal loss, feeling triggered by violence in the news, and even a sense of overwhelm over a lack of ability to address the systemic core issue of gun violence. As gun violence causes physical and emotional pain in America, it is important that you prioritize finding the skills to cope in your time of need. We are here to support you.
Text HOME to 741741 to reach a volunteer Crisis Counselor. Free, 24/7.
Coping with traumatic events
Trauma is an emotional response to a terrible event. If you are experiencing difficult emotions any day—and especially now—your feelings are valid. You are not alone.
Some common reactions to traumatic events include:
- Physical. Symptoms not related to a medical condition like stomach pain, muscle tension and headaches, change in sleep and/or eating patterns.
- Daily functioning. Trouble concentrating, disengaging from things you normally enjoy.
- Emotional. Increased sense of fear, unable to get images/stories out of your head, guilt, hypervigilance.
- Spiritual/morality. Questioning the inherent good in people, wondering why this would happen.
- Social/occupational. Withdrawing from friends and family, calling out sick at work/school because of fear or other non-physical illness related reasons.
Many of us are in positions to care for others while also tending to our own needs, such as parents, teachers, first responders, mental health professionals, etc. It is important to find a balance that works for your unique situation to acknowledge your emotions and validate them for both yourself and others.
If you are experiencing difficult emotions, here are some ways to cope:
- Reach out for support. You don’t have to go through hard things alone. Text HOME to 741741 to reach a volunteer Crisis Counselor. We’re here for you.
- Listen to your body. Ask yourself ‘where am I feeling discomfort in my body?’ It helps some people to actually write out the answer to this question. Understanding where your body holds discomfort can help you better manage it.
- Ground yourself. Name 5 things you can see, name 4 things you can feel, name 3 things you can hear, name 2 things you can smell and 1 thing you can taste.
- Trust yourself. If you have experienced trauma in your past, you likely used some coping skills. You are stronger than you might think and you know yourself best. Make a list of previously used coping skills and see if there are any of those you can try at this moment.
- Set boundaries. Take time to reflect on your own boundaries. Use this self awareness to determine when you are able to support others and when you are not. Take a break from the media to manage your exposure to traumatic stories.
- Mental health support. Find mental health resources in your area with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)’s Treatment finder.
If you’re watching news about gun violence unfold, you may also be wondering how you can help. Here are some of the tips we share with our volunteer Crisis Counselors who are supporting people who are texting in crisis because of gun violence.
- Validate feelings. If someone confides in you about how they’re struggling to cope, it’s important to validate and acknowledge how they’re feeling. Try phrases like, “I’m hearing you feel enraged and devastated by what happened,” or “I can hear how (infuriating, exhausting, heartbreaking) this is for you.”
- Help them find connection. If someone is in crisis, it may be helpful for them to find connection to their friends or family. But, you can’t be there for everyone all the time. Help them identify a shortlist of people or resources to turn to who can give them the support they need.
- Encourage them to take care of their mental health. It can be hard for people to step away to take care of themselves. Show your support by helping them identify a few small things they can do to prioritize their mental health. This could include taking a break from media, going outside, listening to music, and more.
With the layers of trauma and violence unfolding in front of us, it’s understandable to feel sadness, grief, anxiety, and everything in between. Your feelings are valid. Crisis Text Line is here to listen and offer support. The bravest thing you can do is to reach out. Text HOME to 741741 to reach a volunteer Crisis Counselor.