I have been trying to limit my watching of the Newtown, Connecticut events on television. I feel guilty about it, as those directly affected by the horrible massacre that occurred December 14th must face the tragedy every minute of every day. Like you, I am experiencing all sorts of feelings of sadness and anxiety and my thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families, and the first responders.

I have not limited my reading though. I feel that by reading the stories shared by family members, I am getting to know the victims and in some small way, I am honoring them. I am reading the stories shared by the survivors and feeling that in some small way, by doing so I am helping them process the events by “listening.” I am reading the thoughts and feelings of how others are processing what happened, hoping to contribute to the discussion and let our voices be heard so that changes can be made to make our nation a stronger and safer place for ourselves and our children. 

Now I turn to the feelings of “How can I help?” and “What can I do?” I encourage you to see posts from our colleagues at AJN’s Off The Charts and Nursetopia for lists of resources and ways to help. Also, the American Nurses Association has assembled a list of more than 30 nursing organizations joining forces to call for change. 

“The nation’s nurses call on President Obama, Congress, and policymakers at the state and local level to take swift action to address factors that together will help prevent more senseless acts of violence. We call on policymakers to: 

• Restore access to mental health services for individuals and families 

• Increase students’ access to nurses and mental health professionals from the elementary school level through college 

• Ban assault weapons and enact other meaningful gun control reforms to protect society”

Nurses – we are the largest single group of health care professionals. We see the devastation caused by weapons and violence. We care for patients with mental illness and know there is need for improved services and access to treatment. It is time to take action.