According to NBCDFW.com, “Three officers are dead, and at least seven others are injured in downtown Dallas Thursday, Dallas Police Chief David Brown says.”
Complete chaos erupted in Dallas just 30 hours after two black men were shot by police officers in two separate cities. During a peaceful protest, police were violently attacked by shooters that appear to have taken advantage of the gathering.
As a licensed mental health counselor, it is my job to remain objective. I do not know why violence continues to explode within our communities nationwide, but I do know that hatred only leads to chaos and death.
How can we make sense of senseless acts? How can victim’s families walk into their futures without the people they love. There is no right or wrong way to deal with grief, fear, and anger.
When a shocking event like this happens it can shake our sense of security and evoke a feeling of being unsafe. These feelings are completely normal, but it’s important to know how to handle them.
1. Understand everyone responds differently. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to respond. It’s important to acknowledge your emotions and tell yourself what you’re feeling is OK.
2. Talk with your loved ones. It is important to process your emotions instead of letting them build up. Be sure to take the time to talk with a loved one about your fears, your thoughts, and your mindset regarding today’s attacks. Also, be sure to ask your loved ones their thoughts and emotions. This allows you to process emotions and grieve in a healthy manner as well as realize you are not alone in your fears and reservations for the future.
3. Limit media exposure. When a major tragedy like this strikes, it is reported on every media outlet and the topic of many conversations. While being aware of this event is important, repetitious thinking of fearful experiences can overwhelm your nervous system and make it harder to think clearly. Yes, it is important to know what is going on in the world around you and keep updates on how your fellow citizens are doing, however, do not let the media saturate your life. Be sure to get off Facebook, and turn off the news and do something you love like reading a good book, and going for a walk. By doing this you will not let your brain become obsessed with the matter and in turn raise your anxiety levels to an unhealthy level.
4. Connect with your community. The shooting caused feelings of shock and grief to be felt across the nation. However, we as a community still have to move forward. Reach out to your loved ones and neighbors, or organize an activity for your community that can provide a forum for support.
If you or someone you know is struggling with managing emotions after shocking events of shootings and/or mass killings, please contact a therapist near you.
Authors: Dr. Jada Jackson, Danielle James, Danielle Hackett