Nerves, Anxiety High After Recent Mass Shootings

Aug 7, 2019, 10:17 PM

(Gretel Kauffman, Deseret News)...

(Gretel Kauffman, Deseret News)

(Gretel Kauffman, Deseret News)

WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah – Recent and recurring news of mass shootings may have contributed to panic at Valley Fair Mall after a sign fell, making a loud noise that many mistook for gunfire.

Word spread quickly Tuesday night of an active shooter at the West Valley mall. It wasn’t long before the mass panic ensued.

After police responded in large numbers, they ultimately found the noise was due to the sign that fell.

As the dust settled Wednesday, clinical psychologist Ashley Greenwell with the Utah Center for Evidence Based Treatment said what happened wasn’t necessarily a surprise.

“Our brain is built for survival,” she said. “If we don’t pause and aren’t mindful of our reactions and just go with them, then we can misinterpret and jump to conclusions.”

Greenwell acknowledged news of mass shootings—which is readily brought close to home by social media and the internet—has only heightened the state of alert.

“Our exposure to negative events is much higher,” Greenwell said. “Previously, when you lived in a rural setting, you might hear about something like this once a year, right? Now, it’s constant every day.”

Though active shooters have become an unwanted reality in today’s world, the psychologist said managing the fear is key.

“Taking steps to slow down, reconnect with things that restore you are part of that process,” Greenwell said.

If anybody finds that the stress becomes a protracted issue or increases over time, Greenwell encouraged those people to seek professional help.

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Nerves, Anxiety High After Recent Mass Shootings