Sitler: Licking County needs to take care in wake of Kirkersville shooting

penny sitler

In the wake of the recent tragedy in Kirkersville, as I review accounts of funerals and heartfelt words spoken by family, friends and co-workers of the three victims with tears in my eyes, I worry.

I worry for our first responders who knowingly put themselves in the line of fire in the name of protecting you and me. I worry for every person who has experienced domestic violence at the hands of a loved one, believing the promise that this was the last time, yet fearing that reporting the abuse will create more trouble. I worry for people who now wonder if their workplace could turn violent with no warning. This tragedy has caused collective trauma for our entire community and we all need to heal.

I’m a person of action so rather than getting lost in the worry, I started researching what I can do to prevent a future disaster and I want to share what I’ve discovered. Here’s what I’ve learned from recent articles and conversations, especially the words of Tricia Hufford, the director of domestic violence services for The Woodlands, of which the New Beginnings Domestic Violence Shelter is a program, Assistant Licking County Prosecutor Paula Sawyers and Newark Police Chief Barry Connell.

If you see something that doesn’t seem right with a neighbor, friend, family member or co-worker, say something. Let people know you’ve noticed and that you care. You may be the only person who acknowledges that something is wrong and that you want to assist that individual as a fellow human being.

Help someone get to the New Beginnings Domestic Violence Shelter. Call 911 if you see or hear something unusual going on. Don’t be afraid to report it.  Be willing to be part of the solution. Licking County is a great community and one I’m proud to be a part of. Let’s take care of each other and speak up when we notice something out of the ordinary.

Don’t forget to take care of yourself – and this goes for all first responders too. I know you are tough or you couldn’t do what you do every day. But you’re still human beings with the biggest of hearts and feelings just like the rest of us, so don’t dismiss the impact of difficult situations on your emotional health. If you’re feeling anxious or depressed because of recent events, talk with someone you trust.

Get outside for a walk, a run or a bike ride and enjoy the glorious spring we’re in the midst of. Just make sure to obey the bicycle laws to prevent accidents. Read a good book, journal, garden, do some knitting, painting or woodworking, exercise, volunteer, spend time with people you enjoy, cook a meal, bake some cookies – in other words, regularly do things that you love doing to help move beyond the stress you’re feeling.

Be sure to get plenty of sleep and eat healthy. If two or three weeks pass and you’re still feeling down, make an appointment with your family doctor so that you can manage your health before your response to trauma becomes critical. Call Mental Health America at 740-522-1341 if you aren’t sure what resources are available to you.

Penny Sitler is the executive director of Mental Health America of Licking County.

Found in The Newark Advocate May 26, 2017


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