Gun Violence Has Take Toll On Our Psychological Well Being

Gun Violence; The rise of mass shootings happening at night clubs, music festivals, schools and even grocery stores, it seems nowhere is safe anymore. In the wake of these tragic events, many people have develop a heighten awareness of potential danger in public places. “With all these shootings they are hearing about it’s terrifying that we really do have to expect the unexpect when they’re out in public,” said FIU alumna Nelvis Ponce ’16. “Doesn’t matter if I’m going out to watch a movie with my husband; an event or even a night out with a couple of friends; that anxiety is always there.”

Psychological well being

This onslaught of gun violence has take a toll on our psychological well being. Recently, a motorcycle backfiring in Time Square had people there panicking and running for cover as they believe the sounds were gunshots. “It was disheartening to see the automatic assumption fireworks motorcycles; can’t go off anymore without people assuming the worst; also that’s really sad,” said rising senior Sarah Mccaffrey, a psychology and women’s and gender studies major.

Nicole Fava, a trauma expert and professor in the School of Social Work; offer some advice for anyone who is feeling scared and powerless right now. Understand that your fear response is normal. This is especially true if you identify with victims of gun violence. The more that victims remind us of ourselves, the more they feel that what happen to them could happen to us or someone they love. Know that it is normal to feel like the world is less safe now.

Realize that danger is not always imminent. Just because something bad can happen; that doesn’t mean it will. “The statistics don’t support that these events are probable, only that they are possible. You’re still more likely to get struck by lightning or die in a traffic accident than you are to be in a K-12 school and get shot,” said Fava, who is affiliated with the Center for Children and Families and offers trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy to children, teens and caregivers.

Rising gun violence

“That doesn’t mean it isn’t scary when it happens; but we need to have these check-ins with reality to [reduce] our anxiety,” she added. Practice self-care. It’s important not to isolate yourself. Don’t stop living as you normally would. Continue to take part in activities that bring you joy. Fava quotes grief and trauma expert David Kessler, who said, “fear doesn’t stop death; it stops life.” In addition, make time to rest, exercise, eat well-balanced meals, or engage in relaxation practices like meditation/mindfulness to help reduce stress and anxiety.

Limit media exposure. They don’t want to live under a rock, of course; but research shows that overexposure to news media can increase stress in the aftermath of traumatic events. “Balance your desire for information with self-care,” Fava said. Get involved. Actively participating in the change process can help us gain a sense of control and helping others can be therapeutic.

So being part of the solution can mean writing to your representatives to let them know your concerns about rising gun violence or joining an organization that fights to prevent these incidents from happening. “Every year, our social work students take a trip to the State Capitol to talk with different legislators; also they bring certain issues to their attention,” Fava said.