NewsYour Neighborhood Around AcadianaLafayette Parish


Recent shootings evoke familiar emotions for survivors of Grand shooting

Mass shooting PTSD: How to process and cope
Posted at 10:42 PM, Aug 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-05 23:43:07-04

This week, President Trump will visit El Paso, the scene of one of two mass shootings over the weekend in the United States.

The mass shootings in Texas and Ohio are evoking all too familiar emotions and calls for change. Something Lafayette and Acadiana have experienced.

Just over four years ago, shots were fired at the Grand 16. For those inside the theater and across Acadiana, the healing process continues. With news of another mass shooting, many people are struggling with how to process how this continues to happen.

"Having been through it myself, instead of living a life of fear which is not really living, I decided to value all the good things in life. I've decided to be more thankful to God for the things that I've been given," said Jonah Slason.

He was inside the theater when a gunman opened fire, killing two and injuring nine others. Slason said opening up has helped him heal.

"If I were ever to be in that situation again, no matter what the end result is, I know that I lived," Slason said. "From what happened until now, I've been living a better, more fulfilling life. I'm so thankful for everything, being closer to God and figuring out my purpose and sharing love with others."

Emilia Bellone, Master of Social Welfare said following the recent mass shootings as wells as the anniversary of the Grand, it's important to express what you're feeling, but don't let it take over your whole life.

"Many of us are frustrated that this keeps happening or even angry," Bellone said. "It's natural that it upsets us. Getting it out, helps in a healthy way to get through it."

Bellone said it's key to be in the present, limit screen time and be mindful of the effect tragedy can have on kids.

"Lafayette was a model community in doing this four years ago," said Bellone. "We know how to do it. We just have to remember and not just react in panic, but step back and take a collective deep breath, an individual deep breath and get back to doing what we know so well how to do."

Bellone noting the odds are strong that the country will experience another mass shooting.

She said, "It's not a problem that's been solved and it won't be for quite a while. What we can do is reach for balance. Practice situational awareness. Be mindful of what's around you, relax after you have sized up the situation and the people that are there. Know your escape routes. Just stay present enough to be on top of it and then relax, have a good time and go on about your business."

Slason said, "You can't stop these bad things from happening. The least you can do is share love with everyone else and be the good that you want to see happening."

Bellone said it's important to keep to an ordinary routine. "Eating, sleeping, exercise and the normal activities to take care of ourselves and each other. Also, giving children structure can give them a sense of security."

Bellone suggests if you or a loved one is struggling following a tragedy, reach out to a counselor or a therapist.