There aren’t words to assuage a loss as great as the one that came to be Sunday night. The shooter’s name is irrelevant. Gun control thrashing and finger-pointing is futile.
You can look for reasons why this happened, but that won’t bring loved ones back. You can blame the NRA and “gun-toting Republicans,” but the reality is violence will manifest with or without guns. People don’t need guns to kill other people. If you don’t believe me, look to recent events involving bombs, knives, and vehicles. There are shitty people in this world and just because a country outlaws something doesn’t mean it won’t happen again. There’s still gun violence in countries that are “gun-free,” there’re still drug epidemics in countries (including our own) even though hard drugs like heroin and cocaine are outlawed, and there’re still people who drink and drive even though that’s illegal in every single state.
Saying a behavior is bad won’t make people stop doing it. You have to change the mindset of a person to not even engage in that kind of behavior in the first place.
I’m not looking to start an argument with anyone, merely to tease out my own feelings about a series of events that have hit so close to my own life that I think actions must speak louder than any kind of hashtag or well wish. Those are great to bring together a community, but physical actions are what will bring about real change.
Why do I care about what happened?
I almost bought tickets to this event and I personally know people that were shot and/or didn’t survive.
I’ve been to dozens of festivals just like Route 91. It’s terrifying to know that I could’ve been there, hell, would’ve loved to have been there…and the reality is that I knew many that were.
It’s numbing to think that the crowd was swaying and singing along to Jason Aldean one minute…and then bleeding, terrified, and running for their lives the next. Any way you look at what happened, an immeasurable amount of lives were changed Sunday night.
So where do you go from here?
Grief isn’t something that can be quantified and everyone will experience it differently. As someone who has personally experienced and lived through a series of major traumatic events, I can tell you that PTSD is a very real phenomenon. If you were there that night, or know someone who was, please don’t tell them to get over it.
The feelings may not set in now, but I can pretty much guarantee there’ll be lots of replaying what happened, wishing “if I’d done this, this would’ve been different,” and so, so much survivor’s guilt. With my own experiences, the nightmares were almost instantaneous in the days that followed my traumas, and then physical manifestations of stress like my stomach disorder and inexplicable panic attacks set in in the months and years that followed. On shittier days, I still wonder why I didn’t die that night and it’s taken years to get back to some semblance of normalcy.
My best advice for anyone personally dealing with what happened is to ask for help early on. I thought with my own traumas, if I bottled them up and didn’t talk about them, they’d go away. WRONG. So fucking wrong.
I know there are currently counselors at the Circus Circus hotel that are trained to deal with supporting people who have experienced trauma, but in addition to that I’d look into long-term care wherever you call home.
I think it’s also important to recognize that while what happened was beyond tragic, that there were countless acts of kindness that night and in the days that have followed. I’ve read so many stories about friends that were helped up and over gates by strangers, passersby who stopped to help those that were injured get to a hospital, emergency and medical responders that acted so selflessly and so, so much more.
That’s something I’ve found helpful in my own recovery is that kindness paid forward is the best way to overshadow evil in this world.
So enough sap, what else can you do to help?
–DONATE BLOOD. Not now, but later. Blood donations only have a certain shelf life and the hundreds of victims that were wounded will continue to need blood donations in the weeks and months to come. It’s great if you have time to donate now, but if you schedule an appointment to donate in a few weeks or months, that’ll help keep the momentum to support those directly affected by what happened.
I think it’s great that so many have turned out to donate so quickly, but like the aftermath of all the hurricanes, the initial relief is great, but the long-term support is also needed.
–DONATE MONEY. There is a GoFundMe set up by the city of Las Vegas, endorsed by law enforcement. The description says all funds raised will go directly to the families that were affected.
This is the verified link.
You can also text Vegas to 20222 to donate $10 to the National Compassion Fund, which supports immediate and long-term needs of the victims and their families. 100% of the funds are distributed to them & any donations made are kept separate from general donations to the National Center for Victims of Crime.
–DONATE RESOURCES. There are several hotels and airlines in the Las Vegas area donating their services to anyone needing them. At this time, it looks like rooms are available at the Bellagio (for free) for families needing to fly in and make arrangements for loved ones that were affected. There are also airlines that are offering free flights to/from Las Vegas.
Specifically, Cal Jet Elite is offering roundtrip flights from San Diego to Las Vegas for anyone who had a loved one affected-see this link.
Southwest is also offering free flights into Las Vegas for families that were affected-see this link. SW asks that people requesting these flights contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
LVPD has also encouraged, if you’re looking to donate food or other resources, to drop off sealed water bottles and non-perishable food to the Red Cross in downtown Las Vegas.
There are also individual GoFundme sites, separate from the one listed above that was started by the City of Las Vegas, most of which are for additional surgery/medical care and/or funeral arrangements/family support.
This is the most complete and accurate list I’ve found of those that didn’t make it. It has direct links to individual GoFundme pages and short bios of each person.
Last, but certainly not least…
–BE KIND. Our world lacks this to the umpteenth degree. I’ve seen countless posts saying that we need to change the world right now, and we do, but that will come with time. Rome wasn’t built in a day (as the cliche saying goes), and rebuilding lives after this will certainly take time.
I felt like it was important to write this post because country music is something that has brought me so much joy when the world around me felt like it was falling apart. Even if you’re not a fan of songs about trucks and beer, I think it’s safe to say we all want to live in a world where we can turn on the news and the worst thing on is a rainy forecast.
If you have additional resources or ways people can help out, feel free to post them in the comments!