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Mass Shootings In 'Safe' Places Create Nationwide Trauma

Updated: Nov 25, 2022

After three major shootings in two weeks, many Americans are expressing a combination of fear, anger and resignation that gun violence has become part of normal life, says the Washington Post. “There’s this feeling that this is just part of the collective experience. It’s scary that it’s becoming normal,” said Kayla Johnson, a psychologist in Tomball, Tx. “It happens and we say, ‘Oh, man. What a shame,’ and two weeks go by and people don’t talk about it anymore, and then it happens again.” Steve Alexander, a Brooklyn mental health counselor, said, “I had a client just tell me, ‘You know, I’m kind of desensitized to this,. I don’t know if it’s a bad thing or a good thing.’ ”

If many people discussed the shootings on Thanksgiving, that might have been good. “I don’t care if it’s a holiday or it brings down the mood,” Johnson said. “People need to share that they’re missing their loved one or they’re angry with the state of the world. The only thing we can do is validate the experience people are having in this moment. It’s real fear and real grief that needs to be witnessed and seen and shared.” One reason recent violent events are having a powerful impact on many people’s mental health is that they happened in spaces where people typically feel safe, said Pooja Sharma, a clinical psychologist in Berkeley, Ca. The shootings happened at “a club where people go for connection and a night out, and a store where people go to work and shop before the holidays,” Sharma said. “When our safe place becomes the place of trauma, we as a society cannot rely on these places to provide safety, resulting in unpredictably, distress and confusion.”


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