Las Vegas Sun

May 6, 2021

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Three mass shootings in one week spur Vegas groups to increase survivor resources

Quilts For Vegas

Mark Damon/Las Vegas News Bureau

The Vegas Strong Resiliency Center introduced an exhibit of hand-made quilts donated by quilters from Las Vegas and around the world for victims of 1 October on Monday, June 25, 2018, in the Rotunda on the first floor of the Clark County Government Center in downtown Las Vegas.

In light of the three mass shootings in the last week, Las Vegas-area agencies are offering additional resources to those still feeling the effects of the Oct. 1 mass shooting on the Strip nearly two years ago.

The Vegas Strong Resiliency Center, a joint effort of the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada, Clark County, the state of Nevada and Metro Police, expanded its hours of operations starting today from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday, the center announced. The center was previously open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday.

The extended hours come in response to back-to-back shootings this weekend in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, which left a combined 31 people dead. Less than a week earlier, a shooter opened fire at a festival Gilroy, Calif., killing three people and injuring 13.

Since reports started to emerge Saturday of the attack in an El Paso shopping center, the resiliency center’s hotline saw an uptick in messages from those impacted by the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting in Las Vegas, said Terri Keener, behavioral health coordinator at the center.

“We have had many survivors reaching out to us in various ways, through social media, phone calls, email, those types of things,” Keener said. “That happens a lot after a mass shooting.”

To further address the needs of Oct. 1 survivors, first responders and family and friends of victims, area agencies have announced support and discussion groups scheduled this week.

Bridge Counseling Associates, 1640 Alta Drive, will hold daily processing groups at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m. through Friday, Keener said.

The UNLV School of Medicine, in partnership with Desert Parkway Behavioral Healthcare Hospital, is holding a discussion group at 6 p.m. Thursday at the hospital, 3247 Maryland Parkway.

In addition, Desert Parkway is inviting anyone affected by Oct. 1 to attend a discussion group for first responders at the hospital at 6 tonight.

“It’s a regularly occurring group for first responders, but tonight, they’re opening it up to anyone,” Keener said.

All events are open to the public and free to attend, with no appointment required.

Virtual resources will also be available this week to those affected by Oct. 1, Keener said. HOPE Counseling Services is organizing online support groups at 6 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday, and 4 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday this week. The center will upload a link on its website today to access those online support groups, Keener said. Survivors can also call the center at 702-455-2433 to request a link to the virtual support groups.

“We’ve been actively requesting additional support services and helping coordinate and organize them,” Keener said.

During its now-extended business hours, the resiliency center accepts phone calls from anyone affected by or processing the Oct. 1 shooting and/or the recent mass shootings. The center can connect those affected by the Oct. 1 shooting with needed resources, including mental health providers, legal services and, for eligible survivors, financial assistance.

“We just want people to know that we’re actively working to respond to the needs,” Keener said.

The resiliency center was born in the aftermath of the 2017 shooting at a music festival that left 58 people dead and more than 500 wounded, plus more injured in the ensuing chaos. The shooting remains the deadliest in modern U.S. history.

Since then, mass shootings have continued to occur throughout the United States, including in places of worship, schools, bars, banks, government buildings, newsrooms and other public places. The crowd-sourced Mass Shooting Tracker reports that there have been 297 mass shootings in the United States this year. The initiative defines mass shootings as events in which four or more people are shot.

The resiliency center recommends that survivors of shootings reach out for help, seek counseling and maintain their normal routine as much as possible. They also encourage anyone in need of immediate assistance to call the national Disaster Distress Hotline at 800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746. These services are available 24/7.

The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is also available 24/7 at 800-273-8255.

Both the City of Las Vegas and Clark County tweeted Sunday in response to the recent mass shootings, encouraging anyone grieving or in need of support to contact the resiliency center or to call the Disaster Distress Hotline.

Las Vegas also tweeted Sunday about the Las Vegas Healing Garden at 1015 S. Casino Center Blvd., which honors the victims of the Oct. 1 shooting and is available “as a calming place of peace.”

Las Vegas City Hall is flying its flags at half-staff today to honor the victims of the shootings in Dayton and El Paso, the city announced via Twitter. Gov. Steve Sisolak signed an executive order to have all Nevada and U.S. flags at state buildings be flown at half-staff until Friday, in solidarity with those affected by the shootings.