RALEIGH, N.C. (WGHP) — Often when we see a horrific act like the mass shooting in Raleigh on Thursday, the question of mental health comes up.
We’re diving into the mental health of those who see and hear about these shootings too often. Dr. Andrew Farah, a psychiatrist at Novant Health, is seeing more and more patients who are afraid to do normal, everyday activities because of the violence we’re seeing.
Data from the Gun Violence Archive shows more than 500 people have died in mass shootings in the U.S. this year. Seventeen of those shootings have happened here in North Carolina.
Dr. Farah wants you to know this is a normal thing to be concerned about as long as you aren’t letting that fear control your life.
“I tell people that it is a stressful world, and the world doesn’t make a lot of sense,” he said.
It’s a thought many of us have after a tragedy unfolds like the one in Raleigh. Police said five people lost their lives, including an off-duty police officer, at the hands of a 15-year-old gunman. Many of those people were exercising on the Neuse River Greenway Trail at the time.
“What’s most frightening to people is you can be living a cautious life and doing everything right and trying to stay away from areas that are problematic, and yet violence still finds individuals who might just be waiting for a subway or something,” Dr. Farah said.
Just this year, we’ve seen mass shootings at parades, in grocery stores, at schools and so many other places across the country. Dr. Farah said it’s not irrational for the situations to create fear in people.
“It’s very rational because all you have to do is just turn on the news, and there’s no shortage of these incidents everywhere,” he said.
The key is to not obsess over these shootings.
“Not to be overly paranoid, not to alter your life so much that you compromise your life and become a prisoner of your fears,” Dr. Farah said.
It’s hard to escape the information with photos and videos of these acts of terror spreading online. Dr. Farah said you can’t avoid them completely, but you can control your reaction to them.
“Don’t expose yourself to too much of the negativity,” he said. “Certainly, you want to be aware of things and mindful of things, but don’t let them torment you.”
Dr. Farah said oftentimes, the people who are behind mass shootings are psychopaths, which means there is a genetic challenge they face that causes them to have a complete disregard for human life.
They also normally commit the crimes in places where they know they will be the only person armed.