Because incidents of mass violence- such as acts of terrorism, shootings, and other events where there are multiple fatalities and/or injuries -are human-caused and with the intention of harming or killing others, among disasters they can be especially devastating to those that experience them, including:
Incidents of mass violence can disturb our collective sense of order and safety, and therefore the 'circle of impact' can extend to even those who live far outside of the impacted area with no personal connections to the event. For example, a shooting at a high school may trigger feelings of distress around the country because it upsets our ideas that schools are supposed to be safe places- kids, parents and caregivers anywhere could experience significant distress following the incident.
In addition, after an incident of mass violence has occurred, those who have struggled to recover from similar, past experiences may have painful memories triggered that can result in distress symptoms reappearing: flashbacks to sounds, smells and images from the event, heart racing, trouble sleeping or concentrating, etc.
No matter where you are in the 'circle of impact' after an incident of mass violence, the Disaster Distress Helpline provides year-round, 24/7 phone (1-800-985-5990) and SMS (text 'TalkWithUs' to 66746) crisis counseling for anyone who is experiencing emotional distress within the U.S. and territories.
If a terror alert, lockdown notice or other warning is issued via television, radio, social media or text alert systems because security personnel or emergency services have been notified of a threat to public safety, those living, working, or going to school in the area where the activity is occurring may naturally start to feel distressed- even to the point where they feel 'paralyzed' with anxiety, fear, confusion and uncertainty for themselves or if loved ones are in the targeted area.
If you experience feelings of distress during a terror alert, lockdown, etc.:
If you are outside of the impacted area:
Distress- the emotional and psychological reactions we have in response to a stressful event such as an incident of mass violence -can appear before (in an 'alert' or warning), during or immediately following the event, or can sometimes not appear until long after the event (a 'delayed reaction').
Signs of emotional distress following incidents of mass violence may include:
Most people touched by an incident of mass violence may have one or more of these reactions, but they will go away in a short period of time after the event, especially with support from loved ones. Others, depending on the extent of their experience during the incident may have more severe, longer-lasting reactions and will need more time and resources in order to recover. But no matter the specific circumstances surrounding your experience with the incident, it's important to reach out for help if you are showing any signs of distress.
If you or someone you know shows any of these warning signs....Talk with us. You are not alone! Call our toll-free number 1-800-985-5990 or text "TalkWithUs" to 66746 (Spanish-speakers can text Hablanos to 66746) for support and counseling. Calls and texts are answered by trained, caring counselors from crisis call centers located throughout the U.S.
For tips on coping following an incident of mass violence, click here and also check out Tip Sheets and Additional Resources, below.
SAMHSA Coping With Violence and Traumatic Events
National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) Shootings, Terrorism & Other Criseshttp://www.nctsn.org/trauma-types/terrorism
American Psychological Association (APA) Disasters and Terrorismhttp://www.apa.org/helpcenter/disaster/index.aspx