Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Dealing with Disaster

It seems that every story on the news lately has been about one of two things: The 2012 London Olympics, or tragedy. Just today comes the news that the suspect in the Wisconsin Sikh Temple shooting died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. That disaster came on the heels of the Colorado Theater shooting. Closer to home, the Niagara County community of Wilson continues to recover from a fatal house explosion last month that left the surviving family members homeless and grieving.

Here at the Red Cross, we are blessed to have a team of trained, talented and experienced Disaster Mental Health volunteers on call to help our disaster clients deal with their emotion response to a traumatic situation. However, as we saw with the Wilson tragedy, the surrounding community can be deeply affected by the situation as well. Friends and classmates of the teenage girl that passed away and her siblings, extended family members, friends and acquaintances, even emergency personnel that responded to the scene were all touched by this situation. People who didn't even know the family may find themselves disturbed or depressed by the circumstances surrounding this tragedy.

While our Disaster Mental Health services focus on the victims themselves, it's important for the rest of the community to know that it's normal to feel anxious, stressed or depressed following a disaster, and that it's okay to seek help. One great resource for community members touched by tragedy is the Disaster Distress Hotline. They are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to provide emotional support and local referral information for those experience distress following a disaster. Just call 1-800-985-5990 or text TALKWITHUS to 66746 to reach their regional call center.

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