A state of mourning

Jennifer Smith
Posted 7/25/12

As is often the case, Columbine High School is on the lips, hearts and minds of many in the greater Littleton area as another mind-numbing tragedy …

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A state of mourning


As is often the case, Columbine High School is on the lips, hearts and minds of many in the greater Littleton area as another mind-numbing tragedy hit close to home.

Local officials have been reacting throughout the week, in the aftermath of the theater shooting in Aurora that left 12 people dead and 58 others wounded.

“There are no words to truly express our sorrow regarding this horrible tragedy,” said Littleton Public Schools Superintendent Scott Murphy. “Just as the entire Denver metro area grieved over the events at Columbine, we all grieve for those affected by the events in Aurora. But as we know, those closest to the tragedy have the greatest to overcome.”

Murphy said LPS reached out to Aurora Public Schools immediately and sent five members of its Mental Health Crisis Team to help support witnesses, family members and other traumatized community members on July 21 and 22.

“Many more were ready to assist if needed, and we will continue to offer our support to our friends in Aurora for as long as it may be needed,” he said.

Littleton police officers were some of the first to arrive at the scene of the Columbine tragedy in 1999; some might have had that day on their minds as they arrived to help at the theater.

“Similar to many other agencies, the Littleton PD is assisting the Aurora PD in every way possible,” said Cmdr. Kim Ferber. “On the night of the incident, patrol officers responded to the scene and assisted the Aurora PD. Additionally, both of our victim advocates have been working with the Aurora PD victim advocates to provide services wherever they have been requested. Please understand that we are willing to discuss our involvement; however, Aurora PD is the lead agency of this investigation and so we are not participating in any interviews at this time.”

State Sen. Linda Newell recognized all the first responders in a statement.

“We are all shocked by this senseless act of violence,” she said. “My heart is with the families and friends of those who lost loved ones, those who were injured and all those affected by this act. I’m also very grateful for the many first responders — police officers, firefighters and medical professionals — who acted quickly and are still helping in this trying time. … Please take care of yourself and family. Be around people who comfort you. As we all work to cope with this tragedy, please know that you are supported, and that we’re all in this together.”

Murphy, too noted the importance of unity in the face of tragedy.

“After Columbine, coordinated community efforts, connections and collaborations were helpful to provide services to the victims and families,” he said. “The Greater Littleton Youth Initiative continues to focus on how all community agencies can come together to not only provide important services for families but to put prevention programs in place, as well. This has been an important, long-term result in our community.”

Laurie Elliot of Arapahoe/Douglas Mental Health Network, a partner of GLYI, sent out information to help people deal with any stress they might be experiencing in the aftermath: “ The signs and symptoms of a stress reaction may last a few days, a few weeks, or a few months (and sometimes longer depending on the severity of the traumatic event).  Although these symptoms are normal reactions to the traumatic event and pass with time and the support of loved ones, there are times that it is appropriate to seek the help of a professional.  This does not imply that someone is too weak to handle the stress on their own, but that the event was so significant that the individual needs the extra support to work through the trauma.”

More information and resources are available at www.admhn.org.


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