As I write this it’s been over a week. Life keeps moving forward, but for so many the tradegy in Las Vegas is still raw. In December 2012, I was ready to give birth any day to the Twins when Sandy Hook happened. I remember thinking, what kind of world am I about to bring two little babies into?
Before Sandy Hook, which seemed all the more shocking because young children were involved, there was Virginia Tech. Before that there was Columbine. And those are just the ones we remember instantly. Interspersed between those landmark dates there are others mass shootings, other smaller shootings, and consistent violence everyday to young people in places as close as downtown Chicago.
It’s beyond overwhelming. In times of crisis we turn to prayer to help make sense of the senseless but there’s more than prayers we can offer. This is not just a gun issue this is a human issue. Because of this reality, we have to address both the suffering of the victims and the perpetrators, as there seems to be a strong correlation between mental health awareness and access to firearms.
We no longer feel safe participating in our day to day routines. Sending our children to school, going to work, enjoying a family night at the movies. I know I feel uncomfortale in large crowds or certain situations make my mind wonder to places our parents would have never thought of. It could happen to anyone, anytime, anywhere, in any family, even your family. So what can we do?
We can help support victims as well as act preventatively to oppose unchecked, pro-gun legislation (like the Dickey Amendment that severely restricts federal funding for gun violence research):
- Petition U.S. Congress to vote no to legislation that would allow for deregulation on silencers and the Conceal and Carry Reciprocity Act that would require states to honor permits administered under other states’ conceal and carry laws. Urge them to ban assault weapons and large capacity machines.
- Contact your representative. Office aids do keep track of the messaging that is received by the office, record it in their database, and pass it on to the representative. According to the New Yorker, there’s no real advantage to calling over methods such as email, letters, or faxes, as long as it’s personal. In researching is seems scripted messages and social media posts are usually ignored. This website makes the process of contacting your local rep easier than ever. Consistency is key.
- Snail mail is a simple and tangible way to send love, light, and support to the nurses, doctors, and hospital staff who are working to help all those affected by the Las Vegas tragedy. We are sending homemade cards to Sunrise Hospitals Las Vegas, 3186 S. Maryland Parkway, Las Vegas, NV 89019 and UMC Hospital Las Vegas, 1800 W. Charleston Boulevard, Las Vegas, NV 89102. This can be a delicate conversation with children. I simply told them we are looking to spread joy to other people that help others.
- Donate to cover medical expenses, funeral arrangements, and provide financial support for those whose lives were directly affected: Relief and Financial Support Fund and Relief and Financial Support where you can donate to individual victims.
Mental health concerns are often brought up around mass shootings. But the conversation should not start and end there. Together we stop the stigma and spread awareness about mental health issues. We all know of someone in our lives whether it be a family member, friend, or acquintance. Seek out, befriend, and encourage those with mental health issues to seek help:
- Read the Sandy Hook Promise and discuss it with your kids and other parents. This movement, started by Sandy Hook family members, helps educate school kids on warning signs for instability and gives tips spreading on spreaking kindness. Remember this starts at home, always choose kind.
- Don’t overlook something suspicious, and talk to your school administrators, friends, and other parents.
- Support legislation allocating funding for mental health treatment, like the 21st Century Cures Act, passed in 2016. And sign-up for health insurance because the more people in the pool, the less it costs for the underserved.
- Donate to this is My Brave, an organization fighting the stigma around mental health issues by sharing stories of those who have continued to lead fulfilling lives, even with a diagnosis.
The good news is, people out there are doing something. Many whose lives have been forever changed by these senseless acts are giving their pain a purpose. And we can too. Our children will grow up in a world that knows what resilience is, because they’ve seen it cause change.
Image by The Happy Candle
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God bless the 58 people who lost their lives and the 489 wounded in Las Vegas.