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Oct. 1 Survivors Traumatized By Recent Mass Shootings

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The Oct. 1 shooting in Las Vegas was almost two years ago, but the pain is still fresh in many people’s minds. 

For that reason, the three mass shootings that took place last week have hit close to home. 

Bridge Counseling Services offered free counseling to survivors of the Las Vegas tragedy in 2017, and now they’re offering their services again. The group sessions are available at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m. daily and anyone who needs to talk can walk in.

Dan Ficalora is a therapist with Bridge Counseling Associates. He said survivors can suffer from intrusive thoughts about the tragedy, including nightmares or flashbacks.

They'll avoid the places, people and things that remind of that trauma. But when they can't avoid their feelings any longer, they'll start experiencing negative thoughts like anger, fear, shame and guilt. Those feelings can be so intense that they'll detach from the people they love. 

Ficalora said people will turn to self-destructive or reckless behavior like drug or alcohol abuse to cope.

And while those who are most impacted by shooting were those at the festival grounds that night, Ficalora said it is like a stone dropped in a pond the ripples go out in all directions.

“The ripples from there are effecting everybody in our community from those that were right there in the resort corridor that had to deal with the lockdown and the increased fear and anxiety of the police presence to people like Uber and Lyft drivers or good Samaritans that transported victims to the hospital,” he said.

For those who didn't think they needed therapy or they tried it and it didn't work for them, he suggests going.

“Over time little negative coping skills can start to manifest themselves and become bigger problems and have a snowball effect,” he said.

He noted that therapy isn't going to hurt but it is important to find a therapist who understands trauma and the impact it can have. Also, he advises not to focus on 'what is wrong with you' but instead talk about what happened to you and find healthy coping skills to deal with those emotions.

Resources:

 

Vegas Strong Resiliency Center

 

Bridge Counseling Services

 

Disaster Distress Helpline

Dan Ficalora, therapist, Bridge Counseling Associates

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Kristy Totten is a producer at KNPR's State of Nevada. Previously she was a staff writer at Las Vegas Weekly, and has covered technology, education and economic development for the Las Vegas Review-Journal. She's a graduate of the Missouri School of Journalism.