The Oakland school shooting that left seven people dead at Oikos University is leaving many wondering just why anyone would commit such a horrific act. The shooting spree was one of California’s worst mass killings.
Shooting suspect One L. Goh, a 43-year-old former student, allegedly opened fire in a classroom Monday at Oikos University, a small Christian college in Oakland, CA, killing seven people. Gon was later arrested in Alameda. Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan said Tuesday that the gunman was “a very chaotic, calculated, and determined gentleman that came with a specific intent to kill people.” Goh, a South Korean national, reportedly was upset about being teased over his poor English skills.
We reached out to Dr. Mindy Cassel, Ph.D., C.T., Executive Director and Co-Founder of the Children’s Bereavement Center and a licensed psychologist and certified thanatologist for her thoughts on how parents and specialists can talk to children, students, and others involved in such tragedies. Here’s what she said…
First and foremost, an event like this impacts not only those students who were directly involved, but the entire community of
students, parents, and school staff who live and work in this school and community.
Students generally benefit from an opportunity to meet in groups with a facilitator guiding the discussion to insure that everyone has an opportunity to be heard; this is generally considered a debriefing and focuses on the trauma that has occurred. Including both parents and students together in groups is valuable as well, giving voice to those who need to share their experience, ask questions (even unanswerable questions), and revisit the events in order to process this experience and attempt to make sense of this senseless act.
What many fail to realize is that for some of those involved, this discussion may need to be ongoing; there is no quick fix for such an overwhelming experience or the trauma that is attached to it. Being part of a horrific event like this is like being in a war; those involved are all victimized and need to regain a sense of control over their lives. For many, multiple opportunities to discuss the event, its impact and aftermath and some possible solutions to enhance the safety of the school environment, becomes a means to regroup and ultimately heal. Establishing ongoing group sessions and individual counseling sessions for certain students, if necessary, may assuage the fear and long term anxiety often associated with such a frightening event.
Finally, for those who are mourning the loss of friends and family members, long-term grief support groups – and for some, individual bereavement support – are important tools to assist the adjustment to both the trauma and loss. For these individuals, it will take considerable time, and a community of both professional support and fellow grievers to learn to live with this profound loss.
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