You have made your Costco run. You have filled your spare bedroom with toilet paper. Your mobile office is set up, and you are locked into one of many media outlets to get the latest scoop on new coronavirus cases in your area of Michigan.
However, you are still afraid. Maybe your hours are getting cut, or you’ve been laid off. Or perhaps you have risk factors for the virus, and you’re worried about getting very ill.
If you’re like many millions of Americans, you have also purchased a gun and ammunition because you are scared. Suddenly, our resources seem limited, and we don’t know what’s coming next.
Coronavirus Violence in Michigan
You are not alone.
It might sound unhelpful to read that since that’s precisely how many people feel, and many of us are very isolated.
Two reports from Ann Arbor from this past weekend highlight how this disease already impacts people in ways other than contracting the disease itself.
One story is of an armed person who barricaded him or herself into a house and had a standoff with police before asking for mental health services. Thankfully, no one was hurt, and hopefully, this person is getting the help they need.
Another incident in Ann Arbor resulted in a shooting death between roommates when one attacked another with a crowbar and was shot after an argument over coronavirus. One has to wonder how and where the violence will spread in the coming weeks.
Responsible Gun Ownership
If you are one of those people who bought a gun for the first time out of coronavirus fear, here are the four cardinal rules of gun safety from The Trace, which is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news outlet dedicated to shedding light on gun violence in America:
- Treat all guns as if they are loaded.
- Never let the muzzle of the firearm point at anything you are not willing to destroy.
- Don’t place your finger near the trigger until you are ready to fire.
- Always identify your target — and what lies in front of and behind it.
Gun ownership means reduced safety for everyone in your household. You need to know this moving forward. The more you know how to use your gun, and the better practices you use in gun storage, the better the outcome for you and those in your household.
However, introducing a gun into a home increases the risks of accidental deaths, especially to children. It also increases the risk of suicide among gun owner households. If there is already domestic violence in your home, adding a gun often has fatal consequences.
The bottom line: having a gun can endanger you more than it can potentially keep you safe from invaders.
If you have risk factors like domestic violence, suicide ideology, or children in your household, you need to also seek mental and behavioral health services during this time. You do not want to add a felony charge and personal tragedy to this stressful time.
Mental Health Services Resources
Again, you are not alone. You don’t have to deal with fear or panic alone, even though the CDC recommends social distancing. Moreover, you don’t have to arm yourself and have a standoff with police to get help.
The Center For Disease Control has some helpful guidelines for how to take care of your mental, physical, and emotional well-being during this pandemic.
The CDC includes things like limiting your exposure to media and social media, as too much information can be overwhelming. It involves making sure to take care of yourself, take walks outside, spend time with family and friends, eat healthy food, and do things you enjoy. There’s also a list of behaviors to monitor, to know when you need more help:
- Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones
- Changes in sleep or eating patterns
- Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
- Worsening of chronic health problems
- Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs
CDC Urges Continued Treatment
For those with existing mental health issues, the CDC urges continued treatment. For those of us who are experiencing new symptoms of mental health deterioration, here is a list of online therapy resources to get you started, put together by ABC 10 of Sacramento, CA:
- The National Alliance on Mental Illness hosts online communities where people can share encouragement.
- 7 Cups is an app and online resource that lets you chat with a trained listener for emotional support and counseling. It also offers online therapy with a licensed mental health professional. Services are also offered in Spanish.
- Support Group Central offers virtual support groups on numerous mental health conditions for free or a low-cost. This website is also offered in many different languages, including Chinese and Spanish.
- Betterhelp is an app that offers individual, couples, or teens counseling. Licensed therapists are available through text, video, and audio.
- The Tribe Wellness Community is a free, online peer support network that gives members facing mental health challenges and/or difficult family dynamics a safe place to connect.
- Psych Central offers online mental health resources, quizzes, news, and an “Ask the Therapist” function.
- For Like Minds is an online mental health support network that allows for individuals to connect with others who are experiencing stressful life events.
- 18percent offers a free, peer-to-peer online support community for those struggling with a wide range of mental health issues.
Reach Out Today
It’s human to struggle with the fear of illness due to the coronavirus and the unknown. The best thing you can do for yourself is to get help if you feel like the anxiety is starting to overwhelm you.
If you are facing charges during this time of lockdown, or because of violence related to current events, call my office immediately. We are still available and here to help.