On June 12th, 2016, our hearts collectively broke at the news of the mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, which took the lives of 49 innocent people and wounded 53 others.. The ripple of that tragedy impacted friends, families and communities around the world. A special episode of MTV’s True Life: We Are Orlando – tells the story of four survivors of that horrific attack. Their stories are a reminder that the impact of tragedy runs deep and it’s OK to reach out for help or support if we’re having trouble coping.
News of violence and tragedy has an emotional impact on all of us – even if we weren’t directly impacted. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed emotionally, and it’s important not to ignore those feelings. Below are some tips for dealing with the fear, confusion and anxiety after violence and tragedy.
Don’t hold it in. It’s normal to feel sadness, anxiety, fear, anger or a mix of those emotions, in the aftermath of violence. It’s important not to hold it all in. Talk to a friend, family member or a counselor. If you don’t have anyone you feel comfortable talking to, you can text START to 741-741 or call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
Turn if off. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – news of tragedy and details of its impact come at us from every angle. Sometimes you need to flip off your tv, computer or phone, and focus on something else. When you do follow the news, stick to reliable sources and avoid rumors or speculation.
Turn feelings into action. It’s so easy to be overcome with sadness, anger or anxiety after a tragedy that causes pain for so many people. It’s healthy to express those feelings, but we can also choose to turn them into positive action. Take this moment to reach out to friends or family members you haven’t talked to recently. Respond to stories of hate and hurt by taking time to help others through volunteering or random acts of kindness. It might seem simple or trivial, but using our energy to help others is a reminder that love and support are louder than violence.
Get up and get out. Tragedies like shootings can weigh so heavily on us that it makes it hard to move. It’s important to give yourself some activity and some distraction. The simple act of taking a walk, hitting the gym, running some errands or playing a board game with friends, can help us cope with tough feelings and feel better.
Look out for friends: If you notice a friend or family member is having a hard time dealing with news about a tragedy, reach out and offer support. Look out for warning signs that they are feeling hopeless. These could include not wanting to see other people, not sleeping or sleeping all the time, increased use of drugs or alcohol, or talking about death or dying. After tragedies of this magnitude, it is natural for people to feel anxious and have some difficulty concentrating or sleeping for a short while. These feelings should get better in a few days (or weeks for those very closely impacted). If they are not improving, seek help for yourself or a friend. Get more tips on helping a friend here.
Add your voice to a conversation about hope, support and acceptance. Take a picture with “Love is Louder” or “Love is Louder than Violence” written on your hand and post it to your social media with the hashtags #LoveisLouder and #WeAreOrlando.