Disclaimer: None of the advice or information in this article should be considered as medical advice or treatment. Please see your physician if you are struggling with any physical or mental issues for proper consultation.

There have been 290 school shootings in the United States since 2013. 

Even if the media and latest Twitter feeds don't cover them, the attacks at Oikos University, Sandy Hook, UCLA, Rancho Tehama Reserve, Marshall County, and, most recently, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are still woven into our history. And, while they may not be as pretty to look at as the stars in the sky, we cannot overlook the stark constellation they create. 

This constellation is what many of us - the youth of America - have come to accept as normal. I, along with my 50.7 million student peers of the United States of America, know that we hold targets on our heads and fear in our hearts as we walk into our school buildings each day. The fear haunts us every time we hear a voice on the loudspeaker call attention as we hope to never hear "This is not a drill." It's in the textbooks under our seats, the daily math homework we dread, and the cafeteria pizza we get on Fridays. 

And no thoughts or prayers will ever remove that fear until something is done about it.

However, this does not mean that we must get used to such occurrences. For those who are affected by recent tragedies, here are some tips to help cope with the realities that we face.

Helping Yourself

Infinity photo by Yoann Boyer (@yoannboyer) on Unsplash

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Whether you're in the center of a calamity or watching from afar, it is extremely important to evaluate your own perspective once the dust has settled. 

Take Care Physically

First things first: breathe. The danger has passed, and you are safe. Take a couple of slow, deep breaths. Try some yoga or meditation, so long as you are comfortable with what you are doing. And if you're unable to resolve issues by yourself, don't hesitate to ask for help or see your doctor. By drinking enough water, eating healthy, exercising on a daily basis, and getting a good night's sleep, you make it easier for your body to deal with the stress and anxiety that you're feeling. 

Qualify Your Viewpoint

It's easy to see the glass as completely empty in times like these. However, instead of being outright cynical, take comfort in positive memories or activities. Look through an old vacation album, or hug someone you love. And, at the same time, don't feel obligated to view the situation positively. Something bad has happened - it is okay to recognize that. But the glass isn't half-full, nor is it half-empty; it's just filled.

Talk With Others, or Don't

If you're feeling up to it, reach out to your support group: family, friends, peers, and beyond. Even if you're discussing something with no relevance to recent events, you are expressing your emotions and healing step by step.

If you're not comfortable with opening up right now, that is completely acceptable as well. Not everyone will be ready to let out their feelings immediately, so follow through as you see fit. 


As the saying goes: "What goes on the Internet, stays on the Internet." 

Staying informed of current events is critical, but the news will still be there if you stop scrolling for five minutes and take time for yourself. Take a break from the digital world sometimes, and find your peace within a good book, video game, or recipe.

Feel What You Feel

As I've emphasized, the most important thing is to follow the symphonies of your own heartstrings. Nothing said by myself or anyone else will be the perfect advice for you. So feel what you're feeling - experience it, don't shove it away. Cry if you need to, punch a pillow if you have the urge to, and do whatever you have to do to let the emotions go.

Don't bottle them in, though, because they'll resurface eventually with an army of negativity in tow. 

Helping Others

Lovers with a shell heart photo by Aaron Burden (@aaronburden) on Unsplash

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There are many ways you can help those around you, and doing so can help yourself in the process.

Be Mindful

Everyone has their own theoretical timeline in which they process information. While some people may be ready to speak their mind right away, some may not open up until weeks, months, or years have passed. Be respectful of these boundaries when approaching conversation.

Additionally, allow the other person to direct the conversation. If they want to continue, then continue the conversation. If they want to stop, then end the conversation. Trying to force feelings out of someone will likely only make them retreat further.

Don't Promise the Impossible

Be realistic about the scope of an issue, especially when it comes to comforting someone who is younger. You cannot promise someone world peace, but you can promise them that in the current moment they will be okay. Bringing someone back to the present - focusing on their next steps in the immediate future - will help quell anxieties.

Be Vigilant

Smile at a stranger you pass by, even if you think it's creepy. Tell someone you know that you love them and ask them how their day was. If you see someone who looks down, don't hesitate to ask if they need someone to talk to. Be on the lookout for anyone who may need help, whether they vocalize it or not.

Ways You Can (and Cannot) Help

Out of Reach photo by Marc-Olivier Jodoin (@marcojodoin) on Unsplash

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In light of the recent tragedy in Parkland, Florida, here are some ways that you can assist the community.

DO: Donate blood

If you live in Florida, OneBlood is hosting blood drives to aid victims. You can either schedule an appointment with a drive near you here, or call the center at 1-888-9-DONATE (1-888-936-6283). There is a need for O negative blood, and be sure that you meet the requirements before scheduling an appointment.

DON'T: Shed Blood

When a school shooting or other mass killing occurs, it makes it at least 20% more likely for copycat acts. Instead of releasing your anger and frustrations in the form of physical violence or invective attacks, channel it into something proactive. Responding with more violence and inflicting more pain to others does not honor those who lost their lives.

DO: Donate to the Broward County GoFundMe Campaign & PublicGood

There is one GoFundMe dedicated to the victims of the shooting, managed by the Broward Education Foundation. All proceeds will go towards financial support for families experiencing loss. In addition, there is a PublicGood campaign that has partnered with the Broward Education Foundation, Broward Health Foundation, & National Compassion Fund. From this platform, you can directly donate to those nonprofits. 

DON'T: Donate to Unverified GoFundMe Campaigns

According to the Broward County Sheriff's Office, there have been reports of numerous campaigns that are capitalizing on the horrific tragedy. There is only one GoFundMe campaign dedicated to the victims. Be sure you're donating to the right one, which is linked above. 

DO: Contact Your Local Leaders

If you feel strongly about the state of political affairs and how they relate to current events, contact your local elected officials and advocate for change. Call, email, write, vote, and voice your opinions. Don't let the opportunity slip away, even if the media moves on. The world will move on, but stay anyways to prevent a future calamity.  

DON'T: Take to Social Media to Vent Your Frustrations

When it comes to social media, it is perfectly acceptable to share your opinions. However, instead of getting into heated arguments in the comments section of a controversial post, try having a respectful discussion that doesn't resort to ad hominem attacks. If someone is trolling or being disrespectful, it's best to just move on.

P.S.: Use #MSDStrong when sending well wishes on social media!


Not all those who wander are lost… photo by Uroš Jovičić (@urosjovicic96) on Unsplash

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1-800-273-TALK (8255) - National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

1-800-662-HELP (4357) - National Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration Helpline

1-800-985-5990 - Disaster Distress Hotline

1-888-818-7662 - Parents of Murdered Children

1-800-395-5755 - GriefShare

Support Groups

Gift From Within

The Compassionate Friends Grief Support

Trauma Informed

Find a support group near you.

Find a therapist in your area.


This is the unfortunate reality of America. But that doesn't change the fact that you are still loved and appreciated. Give help and get help so we can move on from this together. I'll just be here, typing away while searching for solutions in the stars of the past as a member of the generation fabled to solve the world's countless problems that were enacted long before we were even born.

I'll let you know if I find anything.