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 about the horrific attacks 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, health care professionals, fire, police and EMTs who have 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 Orlando community and members of LGBT community nationwide. It would also encompass people of the Islamic faith who may feel sadness, grief or fear of retribution because the alleged perpetrator was Islamic.
- People who have been a victim of violence themselves – This might encompass people who were prior victims of violence or assault, people who were held hostage, people who have been part of mass or random shootings, or people who lost loved ones to random violence. The events might rekindle memories, grief, loss, fear and heightened anxiety.
- People who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – This might include victims of 9/11, survivors of other shootings, veterans, or 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 man. Counter these feeling 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.
The City of Orlando’s crisis hotline is being used for people looking for family members. The number is (407) 246-4357.
The Center Orlando – – The Center’s goal is promoting and empowering the GLBT Community and its allies through information, education, advocacy and support. From their site, they describe resources available for anyone who has been affected, or anyone who is experiencing grief from this senseless tragedy. Call or come by if you need to talk, or just need to be near someone.
- Grief Counselors for the coming weeks
- A Crisis Hotline at 407-227-1446
- Food and Goods Donations
- Financial Support for the victims and their families
Equality Florida, a LGBT group, has launched a GoFundMe page to raise money for victims of the massacre.
Additional LGBT Resources
- GLBT National Help Center – nonprofit peer-support, community connections and resource information for the GLBT community, including links to local resources.
- The Trevor Project – the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth.
- The It Gets Better Project’s Resource Center – find resources in your area.
- LGBTQ Issues and Child Trauma
PTSD and Coping with Violence Resources
- The AntiViolence Project
- National Center for PTSD: Symptoms of PTSD
- Anxiety and Depression Association of America: Symptoms of PTSD
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- PTSD: National Center for PTSD
- Survivors of Homicide
- American Psychological Association – Managing traumatic stress: Coping with terrorism
Resources for Parents
- Tips for Talking With and Helping Children and Youth Cope After a Disaster or Traumatic Event – A Guide for parents, caregivers & teachers
- Age-Related Reactions to a Traumatic Event
- Violence & Terrorism resources to help children
- Fred Rogers talks about Tragic Events in the News
Resources for First Responders
- Disaster Rescue and Response Workers
- Rookie first responders traumatized by…trauma
- First Responders – Stress & Grief in the Aftermath of Crises
- Responding to mass shootings: An EMS perspective
- First Responders and Traumatic Events: Normal Distress and Stress Disorders
- Healthcare workers: Self Care Tips to Prevent Secondary Stress