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Psychologists offer advice on coping with Las Vegas massacre - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Psychologists offer advice on coping with Las Vegas massacre

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As people continue to ask how and why the shooting in Las Vegas happened, many are still processing what they’ve seen, whether that be first hand at the concert or sitting at home watching the 24/7 news coverage.

San Luis Obispo County-based psychologists Marne Trevisano and Susan Lopez offered their advice on how to recognize symptoms following a traumatic event. For many, the images from the scene will stick in their minds forever. However, for some, it will be much more painful to process.

“It being so much closer, they realize, 'oh, it can happen to us,'” Lopez said.

Watching the news coverage from your couch or seeing the horror unfold right in front of you can both cause trauma.

“People should look out for symptoms such as not being able to sleep, ongoing anxiety, fear in general,” Trevisano said. “If those symptoms continue, they might consider seeking some mental health services.”

Outside of that, some might feel sadness, hopelessness, feelings of anger, or maybe nothing at all.

The scenes of injury and death and the sounds of continuous gunshots could have lasting effects on some people.

“They can be smells, they can be things we see, they can be things we hear,” Lopez said. “(If) it actually takes you back to that event where it happened, then I think definitely that's a time where you're saying, ‘Okay, I’m still in the healing process, I still need to know that that's a balloon and not a gunshot.’”

Trevisano and Lopez say, if you know someone experiencing symptoms, there are ways you can reach out to help:

  • Tell them about a resource
  • Tell them you’ll go with them to seek help
  • Notify their relative

Santa Barbara County Behavioral Health also offered the following steps to help those impacted by this tragedy:

  • Minimize media exposure
  • Accept your feelings. These feelings are normal. Give yourself time to mourn and feel
  • Challenge your sense of hopelessness. Take action through volunteering for a cause important to you
  • Get moving. Exercise. Walk
  • Reach out to others
  • Make stress reduction a priority. Take care of yourself. Relax. Get sleep
  • Eat a healthy diet

When it comes to talking to children about the massacre, Lopez says it's important to let your child come to you. 

"Definitely ask them, 'OK, what do you know about it? Tell me what you know,'" Lopez said. "If they're probably like 8 and up, to show the moments where there's people helping each other."

There are several counseling resources for those who are wishing to seek help. To speak to someone over the phone, call the SLO Hotline at 800-783-0607. For Santa Barbara County, over-the-phone counseling can be reached at 888-868-1649.

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