In this show, we talk about the Texas school shooting that took place on May 24th killing at least 19 children and two adults at Robb Elementary School.
This is a really hard topic to talk about because such a tragedy is heartbreaking. As a mom of two young kids in grades 3 and 5, I couldn’t even imagine the rage and despair that these parents must be feeling.
I’m recording this on, May 25th, just a few days after the shooting I had an opportunity to connect with Dr. Matthew Standford. Originally we were going to talk about his newest book titled “Madness and Grace: A practical guide for pastoral Care and serious Mental Illness” for a podcast later in the summer but I learned that Dr. Stanford has spent much of his career researching aggression and violence he was equally eager to switch gears and respond to this tragedy with some practical ways the church can be part of the solution and help end the horrific violence in mass shootings.
Several mass shootings are named and discussed in this episode and these traumas have a ripple effect. You may be personally involved in a tragedy, and this could bring up the experience and strong emotions, or you are a community member desperate to take action, or maybe you are just a citizen angry by the evil on display.
Every one of us has been impacted to a certain degree.
Trauma is sticky and despite efforts to avoid it tends to stick with us. It can interrupt our thoughts and surprise us with out-of-character emotions.
So when you listen to this episode don’t be surprised if you are impacted and when you recognize it for what it is. Be compassionate with yourself because this is hard and then decide how you are going to process it.
For some it can be journaling, walking in nature, or spending extra time snuggling your kids or grandkids.
The church cannot be excluded from such a conversation hence Dr. Stanford’s guesting in this episode to talk about the 4 ways the church can help prevent violence and be a part of the solution.
You will be surprised by the suggestions he offers because they are actually applicable and in fact what creates the biggest change.
And surprisingly, his suggestions can be done by individuals. In fact, what creates the biggest change is. When individuals seek out others who are marginalized, at-risk and needing to support and offer belonging, purpose and hope.
WHAT IS A MASS SHOOTING?
A mass shooting is defined as a scenario that happens in a short period of time where a minimum of three or four victims are affected.
The frequency at which the mass shootings in the United States have occurred in just this year is appalling. The media has reported 27 school shootings and 212 mass shootings in the span of five months.
Questions about if these shootings are planned continue to linger however the aspect of mental health has always been quoted as one of the reasons that led the perpetrators of such crimes to actually carry them out.
THE CONNECTION BETWEEN MENTAL HEALTH AND MASS SHOOTINGS
It is important to note that mental health has been cited as a reason that led to some of the mass shootings however there is a need to distinguish whether the perpetrator was mentally disturbed or has mental health issues.
This is because there are so many people with mental illness who don’t commit violent crimes.
Nonetheless, domestic violence and racial hate are some of the major causes of such crimes and need to be addressed.
So how does the church help in mitigating such a crisis which tends to be a common occurrence?
THE 4 THINGS THE CHURCH CAN DO TO PREVENT VIOLENCE
Let’s put into retrospect the factors that have led to such violent acts. These include;
- Access to guns
- Mental Health
- Psycho-social factors
- The Media
With such factors in place, the church can respectively;
- Participate in political dialogue and actionable steps like voting to enable decisions that promote safety
- Be equipped with mental health support activities like counseling
- Provide opportunities for members to walk away with employable skills
- Be vocal about such scenarios and offer strategies to combat them.
The church’s contribution to combating violence cannot be ignored because statistics have shown that mental health issues are seen to be reported to church leaders hence the need for support from the church.
CONNECT WITH DR. MATTHEW STANFORD
Book – Madness and Grace
Mental Health Gateway:
CONNECT WITH HOPE MADE STRONG
Join the Church Mental Health Facebook Group! In the Facebook group, we chat about how to care for others, what are your challenges as well as share tons of resources. This is a great community of pastors, clinicians, and those with lived experience and we want to get to know you.