A massive manhunt is currently underway in Lewiston Maine and surrounding areas after a multi-location mass shooting spree occurred last night, resulting in at least 18 fatalities and 13 people injured. A shelter-in-place order remains in effect for all of Androscoggin County, with residents told to stay in their homes and keep doors locked.
The Portland Press Herald and the Lewiston Sun Journal have taken down paywalls on the Maine shooting so that everyone can follow developments on this evolving story. National outlets such as CNN feature live updates, also. Please be careful about what you hear on social media. A great deal of false information is circulating so only rely on accounts you know and trust.
In response to shootings Wednesday night in Lewiston, see a listing of Lewiston – Auburn closures on Thursday. Portland and other communities also have closed public buildings and schools as police continue to search for a person of interest in the Lewiston shooting. Follow announcements from the Maine State Police on their Facebook page.
Our hearts go out to the people of Maine and the families, neighbors, friends, and co-workers of the victims. Lewiston is a small city in one of the ten smallest states, so the losses will be felt deeply throughout the community. Information on the extent of the losses has been sparse so far, but is expected to be updated as the day progresses. Understandably, the focus is on apprehending the suspect or suspects.
Here are support resources that may help.
- Healing Together: Supporting Victims and Families of the Tragedy in Lewiston – a state-sponsored clearinghouse of information of ways to support victims and families in Lewiston, organizations involved in the community and health care response, and anyone who might be struggling with mental health during this stressful time.
- Maine Crime Victims’ Compensation Program
- 988 Lifeline – a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in the United States.
- Behavioral Health Resources for Those Affected by the Violence in Lewiston – from the Maine Department of Health & Human Services. It includes particularly good resources for kids, families and caregivers.
- Maine’s biggest mass shooting will require healing. Here are some mental health resources to help – from NEWS CENTER Maine.
- FrontLine WarmLine – Clinicians, educators and first responders can call 1-800-769-9819 for free support services to help these professionals manage the stress of responding to disasters. Available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week. This service is a joint effort of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Maine Department of Public Safety’s Emergency Medical Services (EMS), Maine Association of Psychiatric Physicians, The Opportunity Alliance, Maine Psychological Association, and the Maine Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers.
- How to Cope with Traumatic Events – Any traumatic event—from a personal tragedy to a global crisis—can take an emotional toll and cause traumatic stress. But there are ways to regain control of your life
- Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Families and Educators
- 21 Common Reactions to Trauma – It helps to know what to expect after a terrifying event.
- Members of ESI EAP can also reach out to counselors or explore self-help resources by logging in to theEAP.com.
We’ve also updated and re-posted response and recovery advice below that we’ve previously posted in the wake of terrible shootings.
Coping with violence and trauma
While everyone is disturbed by such a sudden and terrible set of events, some may feel and react to the news more intensely than others. Reactions may be exacerbated as stories emerge and we learn more about the details of the violence and the personal stories of victims and their families. As memorials occur, we are exposed to the grief and raw reactions of survivors and grieving families. Events become more personal. Some of the people for whom this might trigger a heightened level of grief, stress, or anxiety include:
People who were involved in the event – Survivors, employees, family members and friends of the deceased and survivors. First responders, police, firefighters, EMTs, and health care professionals who had direct relation to the event or to providing care and support for victims and their families.
People with a connection to the events – This would encompass members of the Lewiston and neighboring communities.
People who have been a victim of violence themselves – This might encompass people who were prior victims of shootings, assault or other violence, or people who lost loved ones to targeted or random violence. The events might rekindle memories, grief, loss, fear and heightened anxiety.
People who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – This might include survivors of other shootings, veterans, victims of 9/11 and many others who experienced trauma and are not able to get beyond it. The events might trigger heightened memories, fear, anxiety, anger, stress, or disruption of eating or sleeping habits, among other things.
Children and young people – Violent events can be particularly frightening to children. The sudden and random nature of events may be terribly upsetting and threatening to a child’s sense of security. Some children may be intensely fearful of their own safety or the safety of loved ones.
Responding to events
Be sensitive to others and how they experience events. People handle stress and grief differently, and we don’t always know what experiences others have had that might intensify a reaction. While some may hear such news and move on, others need time to process and react. Don’t assume everyone feels things the same way that you do – be sensitive to those around you and let them express their feelings.
Limit exposure to gruesome details in the news. The 24-hour nature of social media and cable news mean that we can be bombarded with nonstop news and disturbing images of a disastrous event. This continual exposure can exacerbate anxiety, fear and grief.
Take positive action. When violent events occur, it can shake our faith and trust in our fellow humans. Counter these feelings by spending time with family and friends. It can also help to do something to reduce the feelings of helplessness that many experience in the face of such events: Help others. Give blood. Organize or take part in a memorial activity. Write letters. Make a donation. Volunteer.
Consider counseling. If you or somebody else is having a particularly hard time coping with these events, counseling with a professional may be in order. Signs that you or a loved one may need help getting past this might include sleeplessness, heightened anxiety or phobias, and preoccupation with details of events.