Tuning out the news of a massacre may be the best coping mechanism

Sandy Hook Elementary School memorial
Candles are lit among mementos at a memorial for victims of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, on Dec. 17, 2012 in Newtown, Conn.
Mario Tama/Getty Images

Today on the MPR News Update, Minnesota mental health professionals and educators address mass shootings. We hear from the son of a victim of a mass shooting in Minneapolis. Also, we have the latest on the Cold Spring police officer killing, a plan to move sand around in Wabasha, and on how the group that pressed for construction of a new St. Croix River bridge is keeping the pressure on.

PLAN FOR THE WORST: The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., was still on the minds of many Minnesota teachers and administrators as they returned to welcome students on Monday morning. While there's no way to predict every emergency, having a strong plan that teachers and students are comfortable following can minimize the impact of an attack.

THE MINNEAPOLIS RAMPAGE: New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an outspoken proponent of gun control, met with survivors of recent mass shootings across the country, including the son of a man killed at Accent Signage Systems in Minneapolis in late September. Sami Rahamim, 17, is the son of Reuven Rahamim, who was one of six men who died after being shot by Andrew Engeldinger

TUNING OUT THE TRAGEDY: New details about the Connecticut school shooting will emerge over the next few days and weeks. For some people, the extensive media coverage may become too much to bear. But it's OK for people tune out as they cope with the trauma of the event, says University of Minnesota psychologist Richelle Moen. In fact, avoiding wall-to-wall coverage may be the best thing for one's mental health.

Create a More Connected Minnesota

MPR News is your trusted resource for the news you need. With your support, MPR News brings accessible, courageous journalism and authentic conversation to everyone - free of paywalls and barriers. Your gift makes a difference.

GETTING THE NEWS RIGHT: Meanwhile, the shooting in Connecticut has focused attention on the advantages of adhering to an old journalistic principle: Get the story right. Social media has come under criticism for spreading incorrect information in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy, and some news media experts are admitting they made a mistake treating social media as "a living room conversation" rather than as journalism.

MENTAL HEALTH: Another mass shooting, this one involving little children, has the country talking about the availability of guns and gun violence. But some experts and law makers say that discussion should also include a serious look at mental health care in this country. To look at the situation, "a href="/display/web/2012/12/18/mental_health_mindy_greiling/">MPR's Cathy Wurzer called longtime state Rep. Mindy Greiling.

LITTLE FALLS, COLD SPRING SHOOTINGS: A central Minnesota man charged with killing two teenage cousins who broke into his home on Thanksgiving is out of jail. Morrison County jail officials say 64-year-old Byron David Smith, of rural Little Falls, posted $50,000 cash as conditional bail on Tuesday morning. And the FBI searched the Sauk River Monday to help solve the murder last month of Cold Spring police officer Thomas Decker, wading into the freezing water less than two blocks from where Decker was killed to look for evidence.

WABASHA SAND FACILITY MOVES AHEAD: The Wabasha City Council has decided not to require Calgary-based Superior Sand Systems to complete an Environmental Assessment Worksheet, disappointing dozens of residents and environmentalists in the region. The company wants to build silica sand storage and loading facilities along the Canadian Pacific tracks on the northwest side of the Mississippi River town.

ART HERO JEANNE CALVIT: A decade ago, Gail Harbeck was getting by on disability checks, constantly struggling against the overwhelming depression that accompanies her severe and persistent mental illness. "It was paralyzing," she says. But that was before Harbeck's case manager noticed some drawings she had made, and recommended she spend some time at the Interact Center for Visual and Performing Arts in Minneapolis. Interact's founder and director, Jeanne Calvit, is our latest Art Hero.

GAMBLING ON MORE GAMBLING: The Minnesota Gambling Control Board approved two more manufacturers to provide electronic pull-tabs for bars and restaurants around the state. The Metropolitan Airports Commission also voted Monday to allow the games at six bars inside Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Supporters said having a single vendor for the last three months has hampered growth of the games, earmarked to pay for a new Vikings stadium.

SOUTHWEST LIGHT RAIL: The Met Council's Transportation Committee has voted to recommend two firms for work on the planned Twin Cities-to-suburbs Southwest Light Rail line. The committee recommends that North Carolina-based Kimley-Horn & Associates design the eastern half of the LRT, and Los Angeles-based AECOM design the western half. A third contract will also be issued for an engineering firm to review the line's design.

BRIDGE WAS JUST THE START: As preparations for a new St. Croix bridge move forward, a group that successfully lobbied for the bridge project is not stopping work. The Coalition for the St. Croix River Crossing has a long list of backers who have contributed tens of thousands of dollars to the effort, including cities and counties on both sides of the river and some of the most prominent business leaders and companies in the St. Croix River Valley.

WILD RICE RULING: The Minnesota Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling Monday dismissing a challenge to the state's water quality standard protecting wild rice, ruling that the court lacked jurisdiction to hear the lawsuit from the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce. Two years ago, the Chamber of Commerce asked the court to throw out the state's 1973 standard that limits the discharges of sulfates into wild rice waters.

MORE FIREFIGHTERS: The Minneapolis Fire Department will start accepting applications next month for new firefighters. Officials say they expect a flood of responses, because the department received more than 1,500 applications the last time it put out the call for new recruits six years ago.