Effects of violent weekend linger in St. Paul

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Following a violent weekend in St. Paul, mental health professionals are addressing the effects a string of violence can have on the community.

One local group that has been around for decades, the God Squad, went to one of this weekend’s tragic scenes. The group’s founder says the effects are still lingering.

“We get called to the school and walked in the school to see others crying, literally adults crying,” said Rev. Darryl Spence, founder of the God Squad.

RELATED: Student, 15, fatally stabbed inside Harding High School; suspect in custody

Experts say community violence can cause mental health conditions like depression, anxiety or PTSD — and someone doesn’t have to be directly exposed to it to feel the effects.

Spence is now stuck with the memory of rushing to Harding High School on Friday to find out a student was stabbed and killed.

“There we have a bunch of grown folks supposed to be the ones with the answers all crying. It hurts,” Spence said.

That pain grew after Spence got word the 15-year-old victim was someone he mentored.

“I’ve been doing this a long time. That one knocked me down. That one took me off center,” Spence said. “He was a good kid.”

Like Spence, many other community members spent the weekend trying to process the volume of violent events in St. Paul.

“When things like this happen, the first thought that usually comes up is again, yet again, why now? It makes you start to question what type of things are contributing to it,” said Lambers Fisher, Christian Heart Counseling therapist.

Fisher said schools are often seen as a safe space, but seeing crime tape in the hallway where students normally walk to class has negative effects.

“When this happens, it impacts your ability to focus and invest your ability to interact with everyone because every interaction is now a potential threat. Is this someone who’s going to hurt me?” Fisher said.

Fisher explained it’s important to tackle problems from their roots to stop unhealthy reactions to conflict before they happen.

“The circumstances that led up to that, when people feel like that’s the only way they can express themselves is through harming someone else, if we can reduce the need for those type of experiences, then we help everyone feel safe,” Fisher said.

Spence said he’s already working to try and stop another cycle of violence.

“It’s so important that we reach those people that are right now contemplating, “How can we get revenge?’” Spence said.

Local mental health experts believe creating safe spaces for young people to talk about their feelings and making sure they feel seen and heard could stop some of those unhealthy, violent reactions from taking place.