Nearly 60 people were killed and more than 400 injured Oct. 2 when 64-year-old Stephen Paddock opened fire on attendees of an outdoor country music festival in Las Vegas. In the days since, we’ve read about or heard from survivors of the attack, who detailed the chaos and confusion during those moments.
Thousands were at this sold-out three-day concert, Route 91 Harvest Festival, which featured country music stars like Eric Church and Sam Hunt. Jason Aldean was on stage when the gunfire erupted. He is said to have called the scene “beyond horrific.”
Those details of the mass shooting, called the worst ever in modern U.S. history, have been shared over and over by the media. Young children likely overheard tidbits while their parents were discussing it. Teenagers probably saw it on all sorts of social media news feeds. We adults listened intently to reports to hear more about the shooter and a possible motive.
When the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the event — the validity of which may never be confirmed — the terror among citizens seemed to rise to new heights.
Stories of the victims were heartbreaking. In times such as this, we all feel like victims in some way, unsure of how to proceed with a daily, normal life.
Stories of the heroes were uplifting, a reminder there is still so much good in this world.
It is important to remember the good in the world, those who are front and center to help in situations such as this. Events of this magnitude can bring on anxiety and depression even for those who knew no one directly involved. Whitehall Township Police Department quickly posted a message on Facebook reminding those who are troubled by the shooting to seek help:
“We would like to remind everyone that there are crisis help lines available to anyone. Please feel free to contact them if you are having difficulty dealing with the barrage of news coverage and images. But also, call if you are experiencing crisis and feel you are heading toward hurting yourself or others.”
It also posted contact information for National Suicide Prevention Lifeline — 1-800-273-8255 — and Lehigh County Crisis Intervention — 610-782-3127.
Tragedies affect people in different ways. Overwhelming grief can cause panic, anxiety and depression. Heroes of another variety can spot that change in personality — either in themselves or others — and potentially save lives.
While we can’t shelter our children from all things bad in the world, we can try to limit the amount of pain they endure and teach lessons they’ll hopefully carry with them through life.
We’ve had conversations in The Press office about what we, as parents, would say to our kids about the shooting and how we would react if they asked to attend a concert in the near future. Would we just refuse the request out of fear for their safety? Would we say a prayer and send them off?
The predicament is a little too close to home for me, as my daughters are set to attend a concert in the next few weeks. The tickets were a birthday gift for my younger daughter. She and her sister have planned to attend together.
My husband and I discussed that if we would decide to allow them to go, we would stress they must stay together, be aware of their surroundings and look out for each other — and make good choices, my signature words of advice each time they head out the door.
We realize we can’t keep our children sheltered forever, and we can’t keep them from experiencing some sort of tragedy in their lives, as much as we might try.
Huffington Post published a blog the day after the shooting, written by Whitney Fleming, a mother of three daughters under the age of 13. Fleming wrote of being overwhelmed with emotion, what she called “a mix of grief, rage and nausea,” and how she would discuss the shooting with her children.
“I will tell them to look for the helpers, because they are always there. ... I will encourage them to be kind to everyone they meet, because you never know the heartache they are carrying.”
She called for people to be aware of things they can control — their own actions and their ability to show kindness: “Do something — anything — good today. Do it for someone you don’t know. Do it for someone you dislike. Do it for someone because maybe, just maybe, it will stop them from hurting someone else.”
My husband and I ultimately agreed we would allow our daughters to attend the upcoming concert, a decision partly based on Fleming’s final words: “There are no more safe places, but we’re all still in this life together.”