Let's Help Each Other in Times of Crisis

After the past few days of deadly shootings in America, it's clear there are no easy or quick answers right now to the many questions people have on their lips and on their minds. It's likely going to take some time for the investigators to sort things out, to know exactly what led to the deaths of two men in Minnesota and Louisiana, and to the deaths of five police officers in Dallas, Texas.

But there's an even more pressing need for everyone close to each person no longer with us, as well as those Dallas police officers now trying to recover from their injuries. That need is for their mental health care and support.

That doesn't mean psychoanalyzing or sitting all those affected down for 30-minute sessions right now. That may come in time, and it should happen on their terms as they are ready. But people need different levels of care and compassion when major incidents happen. Here are a few things to keep in mind as time goes on after the events of this week:

  1. Seek out professional help if needed. Crisis lines are staffed with trained professionals ready to help 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you are having a hard time coping, feel paralyzed by fear or depression over what's happened, make the call right away. Locally, the Crisis Hotline number is 1-877-695-NEED (6333).
  2. Be there for others if you can. From the relatives, friends and coworkers of each person killed to the shaken residents across the country, support is critical. They may not want to talk much at the moment, or they may want to. Whatever approach they take, it's OK. Hugs and other signals of support and caring can go a long way. But let those who may be having a hard time with what's in the news approach things on their own terms.
  3. Reach out constructively when you are ready. Maybe it will be attending a vigil or just sitting on your porch with friends to talk things through, or maybe even going to the place you worship or feel calm and content to center yourself. Think about ways you can give back in ways that helps rather than hurts others. There may be some things that get scheduled in the next several days and weeks.

Time will tell how we all - police officers, families and community residents across the nation - will cope and respond. Some may be ready to help now. Some will be able to help later. And there's no timeline for offering a hand and being available for others who may need it

Just be there, show respect and caring. Be a friend. Show love and compassion. It helps.