When a tragedy strikes within a school environment, it is vital that the administration, parents, and students all feel as if they are contributing to the situation in a way those results in emotional and mental healing, according to information provided by Greenstone and Leviton (2002). There is a degree of shock, which is associated with these sorts of tragedies that should not be overlooked, but the responsibility to come forward and attempt to provide relief to the victims of the attack perpetrated by John is incredibly important. The mental health and other emotional challenges which could arise for the families of all students need to be born and mind and addressed through proactive measures. Not the least of which is to provide on-site therapy being provided to students, teachers, parents, and other affected persons at the school once it is opened again. But it must also go beyond that, there must be immediate relief provided at the hospital(s) where the victims are being treated, as well as offsite.
Providing therapy at a town hall meeting style venue on a daily basis at the gymnasium of another school, or some other public place would be exceedingly helpful in providing victims and their families with a sense of support. Having outreach counselors available to reach out to families via telephone or even going out to the home in person will allow for the opportunity to address emerging crises. Community involvement with regard to this event will allow for healing being provided to those who were not directly involved as well, especially with regard to volunteer outreach. While the cost of these efforts should not necessarily be an immediate concern, it is something which nonetheless must be addressed to properly facilitate the healing of the victims. Volunteers can be used in capacities which do not specifically call for the licenses and specialties related to psychology and/or therapy, namely those associated with crisis intervention.
One of the most important components of crisis intervention is to remind the victims that they are not alone and provide the simple support of being present during times of extreme turmoil, according to information provided by Greenstone and Leviton (2010). By simply being in the presence of another person, the degree of emotional turmoil in which a victim finds them self is often lessened. This is due to the fact that being in a state of shock after a horrible tragedy such as the one perpetrated by John leaves victims terrified, and when someone is in fear for their lives and the lives of those around them, it forces a traumatic confrontation with one's own mortality. This realization in the short term means that victims such as those involved in the Orlando Pulse Club shooting need counselors and other mental health professionals close by so that they can have someone to confide in and lean on for moral and emotional support. These sorts of support systems are key in terms of victims being able to receive the care they need.
Being able to address the initial shock will quickly be followed by a sense of anger, frustration, and loss on the part of the victims. Once it becomes known that they were attacked and were still alive, once the adrenaline and shock wear off, it becomes very important to then answer questions. Victims often want to know everything about what has happened, at which point they begin asking why it happened, and then quite often there is a degree of frustration and rage which arises. This sense of absolute loss coupled with anger does not always manifest quickly, but John's victims should be encouraged to remember that they are still alive and that their families need them. While this is not the first response to a victim expressing extreme anger, it is a rebuttal which could prove exceedingly useful in terms of the victim in question being able to move on. Reminding victims that they have a responsibility to not become bitter (if for no other reason) than the wellbeing of their family is one of the biggest reasons that victims will explore forgiveness.
The guilt felt on the part of school administrators, teachers, parents, security personnel, the police, and others will also be exceedingly high given the tragic loss of life and the young age of some of the victims. Counseling must also be provided to these individuals in terms of being both conciliatory, but also proactive in terms of addressing future tragedies in the future of this nature. The simple truth is that these individuals do indeed have to bear some responsibility for this tragedy, but they should shoulder it with the support of the community, and not be held solely accountable for it occurring. Those who are responsible for the safety of students certainly must confront their role in the event in question, but they must also be afforded the same understanding which applies to all members of humanity. Teachers and others entrusted with the safety of students must be treated with understanding in terms of not being perfect, and in terms of being supported by the community.
The role of other people who contributed to John's decision-making process should be mentioned only in terms of explaining the boy's motivations, and not in terms of providing a rationale for his actions. The taking of human life with impunity and a total lack of regard for concepts such as due process and innocence cannot be justified or even explained, it can only be approached from a position of prevention. Being able to assign responsibility to those who were entrusted with the safety of students is a matter of professional investigation and not a matter of reconciliation and forgiveness. There will always be some tragedies which overcome the safeguards and protections established by society because these are imperfect mechanisms created by imperfect people. The chance that someone will choose to act outside of the confines of society is something which will always be a risk, if only because there are always going to be people who act out violently. While this does not mean actions and efforts against violent acts such as this should be lessened, it does mean that they are not always perfect and are never a guarantee. Decreased funding for gun violence research lessens the probability of uncovering additional interventions for acts of violence.
The guilt of the survivors is a component of the healing process which will not be overlooked in the program being set up because ultimately they must live with the fact that they survived when others did not. The idea that survival and death could be boiled down to something as trivial as chance is something which many victims have a hard time grappling with, according to information provided by James (2012). Being able to adequately understand the sense of guilt experienced by victims often boils down to the ability to understand that it is a sense of guilt which is amplified through trauma. The idea that they were able to experience something so traumatic and survive while someone else did not creates a kind of guilt in which someone might regret not dying. Victims may need to be reminded that while the fact that they are still alive might be a matter of chance, the way in which they live their life can certainly be completely under their control.
John's actions have likely left survivors with the reality of having to confront the fact that they are now living in a world in which they lived while others near them died, and must also live with the realization that life is exceedingly fragile. This idea of fragility can often translate into anxiety and fear with regard to the remainder of the lives of many victims, and John's victims are unlikely to be any different. It is vitally important therefore that all of these victims receive the counseling necessary to appreciate that they are still alive and that confronting death can eventually be an asset and not just a liability. The chance to look to the future with a mindset which has been shaped through a sense of urgency in terms of experiencing life since death may be right around the corner comes much later in treatment, however. Fostering the idea that life is precious however can be (and should be) encouraged at every stage of the healing process, and my program would facilitate this above all else.
Greenstone, J., & Leviton, S. (2002). Elements of crisis intervention: Crises and how to respond to them. Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole.
James, R. (2008). Crisis intervention strategies. Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole.