BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4)– As the worst week in Boulder’s history comes to an end, many people remain shocked, sad and hurt. Grief in and around the city of Colorado is difficult for many people to manage.
At another mass shooting in Colorado, people react in many different ways.
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“Yes, I’ve thought about it a lot,” said Vincent Atchity, President and CEO of Mental Health Colorado. “This is not mental health and we are all repeatedly traumatized in this way.”
They left flowers and shed tears along the community monument in front of King Soopers. They prayed and left notes. Some had a connection with the King Soopers store, the workers, or were friends of the slain. But many, many more came.
“I don’t think we need to actually present ourselves when trauma is feeling the trauma of that event,” said Karl Shackelford, a Peaks and Creeks Life Development advisor who specializes in grief.
Shackelford hosted a group session this week with people mourning other losses, and people there talked about wanting to reach out and hug the families and friends of victims injured in the Boulder shooting.
Grief, he said, has to be recognized: “It has to come out. The light of the world has to shine so that we can examine it for what it means to understand it. “
Part of this process is finding the right people to talk to.
“It’s healthy to talk to friends and family, especially those who create a safe place for us,” he said.
When there are mass shootings, there is an attempt to find guilt and political differences and debates: “We can share, we can agree that we cannot agree, but we can find out what we are feeling and others have who help us process this. “
In order to help someone who is grieving, listening is essential.
“I don’t think it’s impossible to listen and hear without having a judgment. I think it’s a skill we get from empathy … instead of having a win-lose approach, maybe we should have an understanding, understandable approach, “Shackelford said.
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When there is a mass shootings in America, our thoughts about security change.
“It’s not great to think that every time you take your kids to school, you don’t know what kind of security they’ll experience during the day. Or when you venture into a grocery store and wonder what your level of safety is like. And to think about escape route scenarios, ”Atchity said.
It didn’t help that there were mental health issues during the pandemic it identified last year. Drug and alcohol abuse and suicide have increased. Complaints about stress, anxiety and depression are increasing. Atchity says the phrase social distancing didn’t help. He says it should have been “physical distancing”.
“Very few of us are, of course, wired to be recluses. We care for health and wellbeing in communities and networks of connection. “
All of this increases the pressures we feel when faced with the world’s problems. More news from around the world at a steady pace on social media and television has more to offer people than it did a few decades ago.
“We haven’t had a steady stream of information from the larger world outside of our ability to influence or manage all day. Our field of activity is limited to what is literally within sight and reach of the arms in our neighborhoods and workplaces. We are scaled to this level of stress and management, but when we add endless details and updates to everything that is happening around the world on top of that, that is much more than what we are catching up to in terms of our evolutionary capacity for inclusion and meaningful processing of information. “
That doesn’t mean people should hide their heads in the sand from the Boulder gunshots. It is close. But adding to the grief over the shooting with other tragedies and difficulties that don’t directly affect our lives can make it more difficult. There are methods to deal with sadness. Talking and even going outside are helpful.
“Make sure you expand your scope beyond the human realm so that you reshape your place in the larger world of nature,” said Atchity. “All that means is to go outside and feel the sunshine and listen to the birds and see what comes up in spring.”
The Disaster Distress Helpline can provide immediate assistance to anyone seeking help managing the mental or emotional effects of the Boulder mass shootings.
Anyone can call 1-800-985-5990 at any time for immediate crisis advice. Helpline specialists are trained to manage a wide variety of symptoms.
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Additional resources were shared by Congressman Joe Neguse. The following mental health resources are available: