In the aftermath of the mass shooting on South Street, here is where to find mental health support
Crisis lines are available 24/7 for anyone feeling emotional distress after the news of another mass shooting.
On Saturday night, three people were shot to death and 11 others wounded when a popular strip of Philly nightlife became a scene of pandemonium and horror.
The impact of what happened at Second and South Streets is likely to travel far beyond the scene of the mass shooting.
Gun violence reverberates throughout a community, inflicting harm on mental health. After a shooting in their neighborhood, Philadelphia kids and teens were more likely to go to the emergency department with mental health issues as their chief complaint, a study found. And after school shootings, students within 10 to15 miles were more likely to get an antidepressant prescription.
Adults aren’t immune, either. In the days following the 2019 mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, the American Psychological Association found that 79% of adults experience stress as a result of the possibility of a mass shooting and 33% say the fear prevents them from going to certain places.
“We are all being impacted and we’re all on edge. We are vicariously traumatized,” said Jaynay C. Johnson, a therapist and owner of a practice that is focused on supporting teens with suicidal ideations and depression. “We see the images, we hear the stories, and although it may not have happened directly to us, we are still traumatized by the fact that it is happening around us.”
For anyone struggling, there are resources available.
Anyone who is feeling in severe emotional distress or in crisis should call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or Philadelphia’s crisis hotline at (215-685-6440). A trained professional will answer the call, listen for as long as needed, provide appropriate counseling, and make a referral as needed.
In March, Philadelphia launched a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week Violence Prevention Hotline — call 211 and choose option 3. Among the services available are peer counseling and access to trauma resources for those who witnessed or experienced violence.
Businesses, groups of neighbors, or any community that wants help processing the trauma of the South Street shooting — or any other violent act that plagues the city — can also reach out to the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disability Services’ Network of Neighbors trauma response program.
At the invitation of the community, the department will connect trauma responders with community members to facilitate a needs assessment, hold group discussions and meetings, and provide training in trauma-informed approaches, including psychological first aid.
Checking in on each other
In addition to these resources, there is value in checking on one another and maintaining a sense of community in this moment when many feel on edge, Johnson said. “Sometimes it’s nice to just call a friend and say ‘Hey, let’s go to lunch,’ ‘Hey, let’s grab coffee,’ or ‘I’m going to come over with dinner.’ That will give you an opportunity to connect,” she said.
Johnson says that if someone seems to be struggling, or saying concerning things, it’s OK to directly ask whether they are thinking about self-harm.
“We think asking people more questions is going to push them toward it, but it really usually pulls them away because they feel comfortable that someone’s asking those questions,” Johnson said. “They feel heard. They feel seen.”
If anyone expresses thoughts of self-harm, or feeling unsafe, reach out to a crisis line, Johnson said.