Mental health experts: Don’t become desensitized to school shootings

APTOPIX School Shooting Colorado_1557399940324

Parents gather in a circle to pray at a recreation center where students were reunited with their parents after a shooting at a suburban Denver middle school Tuesday, May 7, 2019, in Highlands Ranch, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – It seems as though every other week there is news of another school shooting leaving many questioning, why? Why does this keep happening? 

“Probably like a lot of people you wake up and you watch the news and you hear the story and it becomes, ‘Sigh, not again,'” said Lindsay Stone, child and youth mental health programming director for the Helen Ross McNabb Center.

Stone says that “why'”response is normal, but as a society, we need to ensure we are not becoming desensitized to the news of more school shootings, especially for the sake of students. 

“I think anything that’s traumatic or hard, it’s hard to keep taking that in emotionally every time and you want to just block it out sometimes and feel like that can’t happen to me. But the reality is sometimes we do get desensitized to it, but we don’t want to because we want that awareness to be out there,” says Stone.

While some can argue desensitization to these events is a coping mechanism for survival, Stone argues that while it may be useful in the short-term, the risk is much greater. 

“I think the risk of that is missing signs. If we become so desensitized that maybe we might miss warning signs or factors of students who do need help and who do need services,” Stone said. 

Opening a dialogue rather than shutting it all out, Stone says, is key to working through tragic situations like what recently unfolded in Denver, and being stronger for it. 

“Open a dialogue and not assume that students are desensitized. Some may be but not a lot of them are. That can create a lot of anxiety going into a school the next day even if it’s something that happens across our nation,” Stone said. “Listen, protect and connect – before, during and after a crisis.”

Even though as adults we may not have the answers, Stone says we want to give them the avenue to express. 

The Helen Ross McNabb Center can help connect anyone in East Tennesse with mental health services and resources which Stone says are essential. You can reach the main line at (865) 637-9711.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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