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Managing your distress in the aftermath of a shooting

Courtesy Americal Psycological Association
http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/mass-shooting.aspx

You may be struggling to understand how a shooting could occur and why such a terrible thing would happen. There may never be satisfactory answers to these questions.

We do know, though, that it is typical for people to experience a variety of emotions following such a traumatic event. These feelings can include shock, sorrow, numbness, fear, anger, disillusionment, grief and others. You may find that you have trouble sleeping, concentrating, eating or remembering even simple tasks. This is common and should pass after a while. Over time, the caring support of family and friends can help to lessen the emotional impact and ultimately make the changes brought about by the tragedy more manageable. You may feel that the world is a more dangerous place today than you did yesterday. It will take some time to recover your sense of equilibrium.

Meanwhile, you may wonder how to go on living your daily life. You can strengthen your resilience — the ability to adapt well in the face of adversity — in the days and weeks ahead.

Here are some tips:
Talk about it. Ask for support from people who care about you and who will listen to your concerns. Receiving support and care can be comforting and reassuring. It often helps to speak with others who have shared your experience so you do not feel so different or alone.
 
Strive for balance. When a tragedy occurs, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and have a negative or pessimistic outlook. Balance that viewpoint by reminding yourself of people and events which are meaningful and comforting, even encouraging. Striving for balance empowers you and allows for a healthier perspective on yourself and the world around you.
 
Turn it off and take a break. You may want to keep informed, but try to limit the amount of news you take in whether it’s from the Internet, television, newspapers or magazines. While getting the news informs you, being overexposed to it can actually increase your stress. The images can be very powerful in reawakening your feeling of distress. Also, schedule some breaks to distract yourself from thinking about the incident and focus instead on something you enjoy. Try to do something that will lift your spirits.
 
Honor your feelings. Remember that it is common to have a range of emotions after a traumatic incident. You may experience intense stress similar to the effects of a physical injury. For example, you may feel exhausted, sore or off balance.
 
Take care of yourself. Engage in healthy behaviors to enhance your ability to cope with excessive stress. Eat well-balanced meals, get plenty of rest and build physical activity into your day. Avoid alcohol and drugs because they can suppress your feelings rather than help you to manage and lessen your distress. In addition, alcohol and drugs may intensify your emotional or physical pain. Establish or re-establish routines such as eating meals at regular times and following an exercise program. If you are having trouble sleeping, try some relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation or yoga.
 
Help others or do something productive. Locate resources in your community on ways that you can help people who have been affected by this incident, or have other needs. Helping someone else often has the benefit of making you feel better, too.
 
If you have recently lost friends or family in this or other tragedies. Remember that grief is a long process. Give yourself time to experience your feelings and to recover. For some, this might involve staying at home; for others it may mean getting back to your daily routine. Dealing with the shock and trauma of such an event will take time. It is typical to expect many ups and downs, including "survivor guilt" — feeling bad that you escaped the tragedy while others did not.
 

For many people, using the tips and strategies mentioned above may be sufficient to get through the current crisis. At times, however an individual can get stuck or have difficulty managing intense reactions. A licensed mental health professional such as a psychologist can assist you in developing an appropriate strategy for moving forward. It is important to get professional help if you feel like you are unable to function or perform basic activities of daily living.

Recovering from such a tragic event may seem difficult to imagine. Persevere and trust in your ability to get through the challenging days ahead. Taking the steps in this guide can help you cope at this very difficult time.

This tip sheet was made possible with help from the following APA members: Dewey Cornell, PhD, Richard A. Heaps, PhD, Jana Martin, PhD, H. Katherine O’Neill, PhD, Karen Settle, PhD, Peter Sheras, PhD, Phyllis Koch-Sheras, PhD, and members of Div. 17.


The full text of articles from APA Help Center may be reproduced and distributed for noncommercial purposes with credit given to the American Psychological Association. Any electronic reproductions must link to the original article on the APA Help Center. Any exceptions to this, including excerpting, paraphrasing or reproduction in a commercial work, must be presented in writing to the APA. Images from the APA Help Center may not be reproduced.
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Parents Information on Gangs and Children

Courtesy of : Florida Gang Investigators Association
www.fgia.org


Warning Signs:

•You should be concerned if your child:
•Admits to gang involvement;is obsessed with one particular color of clothing or shows a desire for a particular logo over and over;
•Wears sagging pants (this in and of itself is not indicative of gang activity);
•Wears excessive jewelry with distinctive designs and may wear it only on either the right or left side of the body;
•Is obsessed with gangster-influenced music, videos and movies to the point of imitation;
•Withdraws from family with an accompanying change in demeanor;
•Associates with undesirable and breaks parental rules consistently;
•Develops an unusual desire for privacy and secrecy and may completely rearrange living quarters to create privacy;
•Uses hand signs while with friends and practices them at home;
•Or there is evidence of the appearance of: ◦physical injury (such as being beaten) and then child lies about the events surrounding the injury:
◦Peculiar drawings or language on school books (may appear later as tattoos or brands);
◦Unexplained cash or goods, i.e., clothing or jewelry;
◦Possible use of alcohol and drugs with attitude change.

Advise Your Children They Should Not:

Associate with any gang members or “wannabe/gonnabe” gang members;identify or communicate with gangs;hang out near or where gangs congregate;approach strangers in cars who appear to want information or directions;wear gang related clothing where gangs are known to gather or traverse;wear initialed clothing such as BK – British Knights – a/k/a “Blood Killer” in high crime areas;use words like “crab” or “slob” (localized lingo may develop) anywhere gangs may be; i.e. malls, sporting events, etc.;attend any party or social event sponsored by gangs or their associates;take part in any graffiti activity or hang around where graffiti is present; oruse any kind of finger or sign language in a public place.