An Interdependence Model for Community Psychological Recovery From a Mass Shooting

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Highland Park is an excellent example of community recovery from mass tragedies.

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PSYCHIATRIC VIEWS ON THE DAILY NEWS

Around the July 4th holiday over the past 2 years, I have covered the mass shooting and its 1-year anniversary in Highland Park, Illinois—a Chicago suburb. The tragedy took place on July 4th, 2022, and I wrote columns on July 5, 2022; July 7, 2022; and about a year later on July 6th, 2023. Now comes today, a follow-up of sorts from my video on July 4th last week emphasizing the importance of interdependence. One of the way-too-many such gun-related tragedies, this one takes on extra special personal meaning for me because our Rabbi’s son leads one of the synagogues in Highland Park.

Psychiatrists recognize the crucial psychological impact of anniversaries, whether they are for happy or sad occasions. For the sad ones, processing grief in order to move on with strength and resilience is essential. Usually, the first-year anniversary provides a sense of how well that is being done. The challenge for the second year, which just occurred, is to keep the process and focus alive.

As reported in the Chicago Tribune article, “Highland Park marches in first July 4 parade since mass shooting,”1 they seem to be doing most everything right by focusing on the following interdependence principles on this past July 4th:

  • Both memorial and celebratory events
  • Include Spanish translations of the ceremonies
  • Resume a parade, but use a new route that would be less triggering to the prior trauma
  • An indoor art picnic as an alternative to the parade
  • Feedback from the community, especially those closely impacted by the shooting
  • Adequate mental health care resources, especially for the children

A recent painful development also had to be processed. The alleged shooter refused to go along with the planned guilty plea. Perhaps that is a reminder of how the mass shooters feel that their killings are justified.

I would strongly recommend Highland Park as a model for community recovery from mass tragedies.

Dr Moffic is an award-winning psychiatrist who specialized in the cultural and ethical aspects of psychiatry and is now in retirement and retirement as a private pro bono community psychiatrist. A prolific writer and speaker, he has done a weekday column titled “Psychiatric Views on the Daily News” and a weekly video, “Psychiatry & Society,” since the COVID-19 pandemic emerged. He was chosen to receive the 2024 Abraham Halpern Humanitarian Award from the American Association for Social Psychiatry. Previously, he received the Administrative Award in 2016 from the American Psychiatric Association, the one-time designation of being a Hero of Public Psychiatry from the Speaker of the Assembly of the APA in 2002, and the Exemplary Psychiatrist Award from the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill in 1991. He is an advocate and activist for mental health issues related to climate instability, physician burnout, and xenophobia. He is now editing the final book in a 4-volume series on religions and psychiatry for Springer: Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, Christianity, and now The Eastern Religions, and Spirituality. He serves on the Editorial Board of Psychiatric Times.

Reference

1. Olander O. Highland Park marches in first July 4 parade since mass shooting. Chicago Tribune. July 4, 2024. Accessed July 9, 2024. https://www.chicagotribune.com/2024/07/04/highland-park-marches-in-first-july-4-parade-since-mass-shooting/

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