Months after Aurora theater shooting, days after Sandy Hook, officials launch trauma site
The tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut last week has reignited policy debates in Colorado that had quieted since the July 20 massacre in Aurora. And for victims of the theater shootings, the devastation in Connecticut can also trigger painful memories. That's why officials in Aurora decided to launch a local website this week dedicated to helping victims of trauma work toward recovery.
Since the shooting last week left twenty elementary school students and six adults dead, officials across the country have been debating what can be done to prevent such horrific mass shootings, often citing the Century 16 massacre in Aurora that left twelve dead and the killings at Columbine thirteen years earlier.
Locally, the gun-control debate has gotten new attention this week -- but so have questions about mental health services tied to the Aurora shooting.
Screenshot of aurorastrong.bluesunsupport.com with the different areas it addresses.
And yesterday, the 7/20 Recovery Committee, an ad hoc group of Aurora representatives working with the Aurora Mental Health Center, announced the launch of a website specifically aimed at aiding victims in trauma recovery. The site, aurorastrong.bluesunsupport.com, is a new version of a web-based recovery program provided through a company called BlueSun Inc.
While the site is no substitute for professional help, its backers say it can function as a useful self-help tool for those affected by the July theater shooting -- offering information and guidance geared toward recovery.
It's also the first time in recent months that we've heard from the 7/20 Recovery Committee, which got negative attention earlier in the fall when families of the deceased and injured victims said they were not happy with the process through which donations were being disbursed. After months of complaints that they were being left out of the process and that it was taking too long to get the money to those who needed it, the governor's office announced in November that 38 claimants would each be receiving a portion of the $5.3 million raised.
Meanwhile, the 7/20 Committee has been working with the Aurora Mental Health Center and BlueSun Inc. to roll out this new website -- and they decided to push ahead this week, given the tragedy in Connecticut.
"When you have an event that is as horrific as the one in Connecticut...it's very difficult for people who are still struggling with the original event, to see something like that occur," says Charles Benight, professor of psychology at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs and the founder of BlueSun Inc. "It creates a lot of stress in people who are already vulnerable."
Benight, an expert in trauma, says he and a colleague first got a grant for this kind of online program in 2006, and have worked to fine-tune the interactive tool since then. BlueSun Inc. has partnered with different groups across the country to tailor versions of the site to victims of specific tragedies, such as Hurricane Ike.
Continue for more on the site and the work of the 7/20 Recovery Committee.