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Local

Free Kishwaukee Hospital service helps locals deal with trauma from tragedies

A woman sits Monday morning on a curb at the scene of a shooting outside of a music festival along the Las Vegas Strip in Las Vegas.
A woman sits Monday morning on a curb at the scene of a shooting outside of a music festival along the Las Vegas Strip in Las Vegas.

DeKALB – Las Vegas is nearly 1,700 miles away, yet a free service offered at Kishwaukee Hospital could be invaluable for locals who feel traumatized by Monday morning's mass shooting.

The Living Room, in the main Ben Gordon Center at 12 Health Services Drive, offers free peer-run support services for those needing help, or simply someone to talk to, as well as a 24-hour hotline at 866-242-0111, for those in immediate crisis.

Kimberly Volk, director of Behavioral Health Services, said many people were in tears Monday, but sometimes stress response is delayed.

“Many people today are in tears,” Volk said. “Sometimes, people have a stress reaction immediately, but a lot of people have delayed stress reaction, it can be up to a week or more. People should be aware over the next couple of weeks and check in on themselves and their well-being.”

Volk said post-stress reaction to tragedies can affect people mentally and physically. She stressed that maintaining a proper diet and sleep schedule are vital. Volk also said news consumers should limit the amount of television they watch, especially at night.

“It’s difficult for some – hour after hour you watch the bad news going on,” she said. “It may bring up some difficult memories for some people.”

A bad memory Volk and her colleague, Karen Erkfritz, referred to was the Northern Illinois University shooting that happened Feb. 14, 2008, the fifth-deadliest university shooting in U.S. history.

“Studies show when somebody goes through a traumatic event, they can go through an acute stress reaction,” Erkfritz said. “Learn about self care. If anyone has experienced a similar situation, they may be inclined to return to that stress level. Everyone needs to learn to not isolate themselves.”

Erkfritz recommended for those suffering from stress because of the shooting in Las Vegas to keep good communication with their friends and family. She said help doesn’t necessarily mean checking into a clinic or talking to a professional.

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