The Orlando Mass Shooting: Response and Resources


It is with great sadness that the GSU Counseling Center staff joins the Gender and Sexual Minority (GSM) Community in grieving the many lives that were lost in the tragic mass shooting in Orlando, FL.

We have created this webpage as a resource for those who may have been affected by this tragedy and are in need of services for themselves or others. Please know that our thoughts are with you during this difficult time, and that our Counseling Center will attempt to help support you in this time of need in any way that we can.

Below, we have provided resources in three areas: 1) The American Psychological Association’s response to the Orlando Shooting, 2) Our comprehensive list of resources and support services for the GSM community, and 3) General resources for coping with grief.

We sincerely hope these will be a part of the healing process for those affected by this tragedy.

GSU Counseling Center Staff

The American Psychological Association’s Response to the Orlando Mass Shooting

“You may be struggling to understand how a shooting could occur and why such a terrible thing would happen. There may never be satisfactory answers to these questions.

We do know, though, that it is typical for people to experience a variety of emotions following such a traumatic event. These feelings can include shock, sorrow, numbness, fear, anger, disillusionment, grief and others. You may find that you have trouble sleeping, concentrating, eating or remembering even simple tasks. This is common and should pass after a while. Over time, the caring support of family and friends can help to lessen the emotional impact and ultimately make the changes brought about by the tragedy more manageable. You may feel that the world is a more dangerous place today than you did yesterday. It will take some time to recover your sense of equilibrium.

Meanwhile, you may wonder how to go on living your daily life. You can strengthen your resilience — the ability to adapt well in the face of adversity — in the days and weeks ahead.”

For ideas on how to cope with this tragedy, please see the following webpage:

Resources and Support Services for the Gender and Sexual Minority (GSM) Community

Many in the GSM community find clubs like the Pulse Nightclub to be one of the few places in which they feel that they are safe and can fully express themselves and their affection for others. When spaces such as this are threatened, GSM community members may ask themselves in more often than usual “Am I safe?”

The GSU Counseling Center provides one of the most comprehensive lists of GSM resources in our area. This list highlights community, local, state, and national avenues through which the GSM community can find safe spaces, counseling, and other needed support. Please see below for the comprehensive list.

In addition, the handout below was created specifically related to coping with the Orlando Shooting and provides some helpful tips for resilience and recovery.

Resources for Coping with Grief

Dealing with the loss of a friend or loved one is difficult at any time, but it is especially hard when the death occurs suddenly. The GSU Counseling Center would like to normalize the experience of grief and loss that you may be experiencing and provide resources in case you or someone you know needs additional support.

What can I expect to experience while I’m grieving?

The truth is that responses to tragedy are different for everyone. The most important thing to remember is that your experience of grief is unique to you. Everyone experiences loss in different ways, including how long it takes for them to deal fully with their grief. Nobody can tell you what kind of grieving is right for you.

That said, some common emotions that occur when you are grieving can include:

  • Shock and numbness: being unable to cry, not feeling your emotions
  • Denial: not wanting to believe that the event has occurred
  • Sadness: feeling tearful, empty, or focusing on the loss in your life
  • Anger: being angry with yourself or at others; anger is a normal part of ANY stress but it also very common after a traumatic event
  • Anxiety: feeling uncertain about the future, questioning your previously held beliefs
  • Shame: wanting to hide your grief from others
  • Guilt: feeling somehow responsible for the trauma; feeling as though you are not “as sad” as you “should be”
  • For more information, read our online handout, What to Expect When You Lose a Loved-One to a Traumatic Experience

In extreme cases, people who are grieving may feel that they need to physically harm themselves (cutting, burning) in order to express their emotions, or worse, they may have the desire to attempt suicide. If you or someone you know is experiencing such extreme emotions or reactions such as these, please contact the University Police Department (UPD) at 912-478-5234.

How do I cope with this loss?

As you deal with your grief, keep in mind that people may have different reactions and emotions than you. There are no right or wrong ways to mourn your loss. The following suggestions can help you process your grief in a healthy way, but you can choose another solution as well.

  • EXPRESS YOUR EMOTIONS with someone else. You can talk to your friends, loved ones, a minister, or a professional. As long as the person is willing to listen to you and to allow you to grieve, then that person will most likely be helpful to you. Do NOT talk to someone who is judgmental, gives you advice, or is otherwise not supportive of your emotional experience.
  • TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF by staying hydrated, eating normally, and trying to get sufficient sleep so you have the energy to deal with overwhelming emotions.
  • MANAGE STRESS by engaging in activities you find relaxing or hopeful: take a walk, enjoy nature, drink hot tea, play with a pet, read a good book or watch your favorite movie, take a warm bath, hug a loved one.
  • PROFESSIONAL HELP is available both at the GSU Counseling Center and in the Statesboro community in general.

How do I help my friends who are grieving?

Don’t be afraid to ask how your friends are coping with loss. Offer to provide support by listening if they want to talk about it, but do not pressure friends to discuss their loss with you if they are not ready.

Generally, we can group ways to help friends into supportive vs. non-supportive behaviors.

Supportive Behaviors

Non-Supportive Behaviors

  • Be supportive
  • Ask them what they need and try to accept their answer
  • Be curious
  • Get comfortable with discomfort
  • Don’t feel like you have to “say the right thing.”
  • If the person is ok with it, reminisce with them about the deceased
  • Cry, storytell, laugh
  • Attend/create rituals that help with closure
  • Being an “expert”
  • Responding too quickly
  • Changing the subject
  • Talking too much about yourself
  • Asking “why” questions
  • Giving advice
  • Preaching, placating, lecturing
  • Over-interpreting
  • Asking too many questions
  • Interrupting silence
  • Blaming

If you are concerned for a friend, offer to accompany him or her to a counseling appointment or contact family members for him/her. If a friend indicates that they are suicidal, contact the Counseling Center (912-478-5541) or University Police Department immediately.

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Last updated: 6/22/2016