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Mass shootings: resources to help cope with and prevent gun violence

CENTRAL COAST, Calif. – Governor Gavin Newsom visited Half Moon Bay on Tuesday following the third deadly mass shooting to occur in California within three days.

During a press conference, Newsom pulled out a hand-written page of mass shootings, starting with Aurora, and said the list starts "right here, right up in the right corner."

"It says Aurora. And then it was Midland. Orlando. Buffalo. Parkland. San Jose. Sutherland. Sandy Hook. Boulder. And I started writing in Monterey Park. Now I gotta write in Half Moon Bay."

"39 now of these mass shootings, and we're only on day 24 of the new year."

Governor Gavin Newsom

Mass shootings impact people across the country and here at home.

News Channel 3-12 compiled the following in November of 2022, but as the mass shootings continue, here again are some resources and advice on how to cope with the effects on mental health and what you can do to help prevent gun violence.

Coping with gun violence:

There is a 24/7, 365-days-a-year, national hotline dedicated to providing immediate crisis counseling for people who are experiencing emotional distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster. The Disaster Distress Helpline number is 1-800-985-5990.

This hotline is provided by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

The Santa Barbara County Department of Behavioral Wellness provided the following information on ways to cope with mass violence:

It is normal to have different reactions. Some may carry ongoing worry about what they are seeing occur, others may feel numb to the over exposure of seeing such tragedy occur again and again, and some may not be concerned at all. No reaction is wrong.

The stress of mass shootings may be especially strong for children and teens who are already experiencing mental health challenges. For youth and adults alike, when we perceive a threat, our levels of stress escalate, and we are not able to access parts of our brain leading to feelings of distractibility and the inability to focus.

It is important for parents to begin conversations with children and teens after witnessing (even second hand through the media), high stress events such as shootings. Kids tend to do better when hearing about events like this from parents than from friends, social media or TV, first.  It is important for parents to be aware of how strongly they provide a sense of security to their children, and to let children know their home, community and school are safe.

Parents should also be aware of how they’re conducting themselves, since kids will likely model their behavior and attitude accordingly. Children of all ages, especially young children, are going to be watching the adults in their lives for their reactions that help to kind of construct for them how they should be feeling and what their sense of safety is. This also gives parents an opportunity for teaching. It's okay to feel sad, to feel shocked, to feel stressed and to be able to explain what those feelings are to your child. It helps kids to understand what their emotions are and what they're feeling.  Other tips for parents include:

  • Let kids ask questions or lead the conversation by telling you what they have heard
  • Give kids extra time and attention.  Stay connected.
  • Keep routines, which help kids know what to expect

For adults, self care is critical as a model for children, but also for one’s resiliency with the cumulative high stress events which have occurred and are being witnessed.  Additional tips include:

  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Get outdoors and exercise (take a walk, stretch, breath deeply)
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Establish and maintain a routine.

If a parent is concerned for their child’s reactions or sees a marked change in their child’s behavior, consider reaching out for professional support.  Just as this is important for children, adults should also stay connected to others.  When additional support is needed, reach out for professional support.  Nobody is alone.

The Behavioral Wellness 24/7 Access Line can be reached at 1-888-868-1649 and can assist with linkage or referrals to services.

Preventing gun violence:

Online resources:

Past News Channel 3-12 coverage of gun violence prevention efforts and impacts in the community:

Article Topic Follows: Safety
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Lily Dallow

Lily is the Digital Content Director at News Channel 3-12. To learn more about Lily, click here.


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