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What you need to know about the Las Vegas shooting--and how to handle this tragic news

The links within this post lead to news articles of recent events and may contain images that are graphic and/or disturbing. Please be cautious when visiting these links.

Last night, a gunman opened fire on concertgoers at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada. At time of publication, 58 victims have been confirmed dead and at least 515 others are believed to be wounded.

Sources confirm that the shooter, who staged the attack from the 32nd floor of a hotel across the street from the concert, was found dead in his room by authorities. 

In a statement, President Donald Trump called the attack "an act of pure evil" and praised the Las Vegas police and first responders for the courage and speed used to prevent further loss of life.

The attack—the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history—immediately sparked an outpouring of grief, love and support for the victims and their families, much of which was shared on social media by public figures, musicians and many others.

It has also sparked debate on political issues such as gun control and the type of language used to describe shooters (for example, some news outlets have labeled the shooter a "lone wolf" while others believe the term "domestic terrorist" should be used).

One thing is certain: Last night's attack in Las Vegas is devastating, horrifying and confusing. And with the wide array of videos, images, commentary, opinions and conflicting information circulating on the internet, on social media and in real-life discussions, it can be extremely difficult to understand and process these tragic events—and the complex discussions that occur afterward.

Here are a few suggestions to help you:

Choose your news wisely.
It's important you make sure that you are getting your news from reputable sources. AP, CNN, The Wall Street Journal, Fox, The New York Times and USA Today are a few trusted sources to look to. Also remember that many outlets distributing fake, sensationalized news may closely resemble authentic news sources; so be sure to investigate everything you read before hitting "share" on that Facebook post. 

Approach your parents.
If there are parts of the news that you don't understand and want to discuss with someone, reach out to your parents or another adult you trust. Find a time when you can sit down and chat without other distractions—and come ready with specific questions you have, or a news article you want to discuss. Keep in mind that these topics are difficult for them, too—so they, like you, may also have difficulty comprehending the news.

Unplug.
Now may also be a good time to disconnect from your social media. Many people lash out with emotionally charged posts, and you don't want to find yourself caught in a Facebook feud or Twitter war. If you feel like you need to share something, first take a step back. Make sure that you have your thoughts clearly organized. Try writing them down on a piece of paper to get a better visual. Next, do your research. Use the reliable sources mentioned above make sure that you are writing a well-informed and factually supported post. Read and reread your draft before posting it. And, finally, be prepared for others to disagree with your thoughts.

Do something.
It's normal to feel helpless when we see horrific things happening across the country—or on the other side of the world. If you feel compelled to help but don't know where to start—or question whether your contribution will even matter—remember that even the smallest act of kindness can make a difference. Try starting a grassroots fundraiser (sell lemonade, organize a car wash, sell those cute bracelets you make) to benefit the victims of a tragedy or simply send a hand-written letter of support to someone involved.

Take a break.
If you're having a difficult time dealing, it's OK to switch off the news and take a break from it all. Focus on what is happening in your world that makes you happy, and then share that happiness with others. Remember that there is still plenty of room for kindness in the world, and one positive act a day can keep it going.

Image: Getty.

by Hayley Anderson, with updated reporting by Kelsey Haywood | 10/2/2017
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