In the aftermath of an incident of mass violence, it is important to help survivors recognize and understand the normalcy of their reactions. Sudden, shocking violent events can leave deep emotional wounds and can threaten our sense of control and safety, affecting many aspects of our lives. Even if we learn our loved ones are safe, the emotional impact of violence can linger as we try to make sense of the event. It may feel as though the world is becoming less safe or predictable.
To aid the community in healing following the June 17 mass shooting at Trenton’s Art All Night festival, Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes’ administration and partners at the state and at Art Works will host a forum to help individuals, families and the community cope. The program will provide important information about stress reactions related to violent events, strategies and techniques for coping, and helpful resources for those who are affected by this tragic event. The meetings are meant to help people make sense of their feelings, and will not focus on the future of Art All Night or societal issues facing Trenton.
Please consider attending a session Thursday, June 28. Two sessions will be conducted: the first from 5:30 to 6:30pm and the second from 7:30 to 8:30pm at the New Jersey State Museum Auditorium. In order to determine participant interest, please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 609-281-7218. No one who does not RSVP will be turned away.
Incidents of mass violence can be especially devastating to those that experience them. Survivors of and witnesses to an incident, loved ones of victims and survivors, and first responders, as well as neighbors and community members from the surrounding area can be emotionally shaken by violent events. Violence and other traumatic events can result in distressing reactions like feeling anxious or afraid. It’s also common for people to find themselves thinking about the event often, even if they were not directly affected and if they saw it on television. Following a violent event, it is important to remember that no reactions are wrong or right, and that most responses are just normal ways of reacting to a powerful situation. One of the most helpful things to do following a violent event is to connect with others, and talk about feelings of sadness, anger and other emotions.
Although the stress associated with the Trenton mass shooting may feel extreme and distressing, mental health experts say most people do recover fully after a disaster, and some outcomes can be positive, such as bringing a community closer together or causing one to reorient to new priorities, goals or values.