Vibrant providing support to victims of mass violence, healthcare providers

WAFF's Jasmyn Cornell reporting
Published: Apr. 25, 2023 at 10:02 AM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Experiencing a mass violence incident is terrifying and can be very stressful in the days, weeks, and months that follow. While reactions vary from person to person, many across the United States are having a difficult time coping with the increase in incidents of mass violence.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, it’s common for people to generally feel like they’ve lost their sense of safety, security, and control. Leaders with Vibrant, the nonprofit administrator of the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, say communities impacted by these incidents have a long recovery trajectory.

The organization is providing resources for victims and hosting programs for those who help victims of mass violence. Amy Carol Dominguez, Program Director of Vibrant’s Crisis Emotional Care Team, says part of her organization’s mission is equipping behavioral healthcare providers with the tools to respond.

When there is a particular incident or an increase of crisis and disaster incidents, their team of clinicians and experts will get together and host “Just in Time” trainings. The trainings give people the immediate tools and practical applications of what to do and how to care for people, said Dominguez.

They are hosted regularly throughout the year based on what’s happening in the country. In April, they hosted a training on mass violence. During the program, they provided crisis intervention strategies. Dominguez says if you’re a provider or someone who is supporting a victim of mass violence, it’s important to engage in active listening and establish trust.

“The thing that we often share initially is to be human first and to listen. I think a lot of times, especially if you’re in a care provider environment or career, your job is to fix and move people forward in their journey,” said Dominguez. “It can be tempting to try to come in with a bunch of solutions or particular tips and tricks, but the first step we actually say is just to take a breath and listen.”

Dominguez says the Disaster Distress Helpline is incredibly useful in these particular moments for victims. It’s a 24/7 hotline dedicated to providing support to people experiencing emotional distress related to a natural or human-caused disaster.

Victims and anyone struggling during times of mass violence can also reach out to the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, said Dominguez. She says if you are a victim, please seek support and be kind to yourself.

“We find that individuals [who] have faced any kind of trauma, really, you start seeing deficits in four key areas. You see a loss of appetite [and] see a loss of sleep. You see a loss of movement and exercise, and you see just a loss of focus,” said Dominguez. “So, we give a few kind of anchor points. First thing is social support, [which includes] making sure that you’re reaching out to the people that love you.”

Dominguez says a lot of times in these instances, people feel like they’re in a movie or that it’s not real; they’re very disoriented. Breathing is also helpful in addition to connecting to those people who feel safe, she said.

If you’re interested in receiving support, click here to reach out to Vibrant.

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