Coping with mass shooting anxiety

Tuesday night's mass shooting at a Chesapeake Walmart marks the 607th incident in the U.S. where at least four people were hurt and or killed, according to the Gun Violence Archive.     

FOX 5 wanted to know if Americans have reached a capacity for empathy when it comes to mass shootings. Have we passed the peak of caring about every single time a shooting happens?

We spoke with Dr. Aliya Jones, the head of behavioral health for Luminis Health, about the issue. 

Dr. Jones explained that being anxious about being in public is normal, but she emphasized having awareness, and not being paralyzed by fear, is incredibly important.

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"Is it healthy to believe that there’s no place that’s safe? No," she said. "There is nothing that is healthy about that. Is it healthy to accept that unpredictable things can happen and that you could be a victim, or someone you love could be a victim? It’s a necessity to accept that reality in our culture, in our country, in our community at this point in time.

In this image from video Virginia police respond to the scene of a fatal shooting at a Walmart on Tuesday night, Nov. 22, 2022, in Chesapeake, Va. (WAVY-TV 10 via AP)

To be clear, the odds of an incident happening to you or someone you know directly are still rare. Many people go about their daily lives with no issues, which is something Dr. Jones made sure to emphasize.

Laura Rogers lives in Minnesota and, like most people we talked to, doesn’t like the reality of gun violence in America right now. She specifically thinks about her young kids, hating they have to do things like active shooter training, but it’s the reality she’s living with.

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"I think we all have to not become paralyzed by the fear, and not become completely desensitized," Rogers said. "I can’t be desensitized like truly desensitized because it’s impacting our children and how they’re living their lives."

Dr. Jones explained that our ability to rally empathy for various circumstances and situations does fluctuate based on what happened, when it happened, and who it happened to. 

"We do certainly have limitations in our capacity to be endlessly empathetic, but I believe that our well to be empathetic is quite deep," she said. 

Aaron Dallas is a D.C. resident. He said that he makes efforts to be empathetic and tries to be part of the solution. 

"As a person of faith, I try to still practice those core beliefs," Dallas said. "I also look at it just as a human being, as a citizen, as someone who cares and wants more for myself and, not only the future generations but the current state that we’re in."

In terms of living our daily lives, Dr. Jones said people who have anxiety about going out to public places should not be paralyzed by fear. Instead, it's healthy to have situational awareness wherever you go.