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Texas school shooting sparks Bend firm’s support of victims, Sister nonprofit’s efforts to prevent more tragedies

'Taking it day by day, and just knowing there’s a wide, large group of survivors that are here to help and support'

(Update: Adding video, comments from DANI Naturals 'Prevent Mass Shootings Now' official)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- It’s been two weeks since the tragic mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, leaving a community and many around the country heartbroken. While a Bend business is working to help the victims, a Sisters nonprofit is advocating for ways to keep such tragedies from happening.

DANI Naturals, which makes natural and organic bath and beauty products, is dedicating 20% of their June sales to aid two nonprofit organizations, and, to aid the victims, their families, as well as the community of Uvalde.

“For us, it hit really close to home. I, myself, am a survivor of the Columbine High School shootings in 1999," DANI Naturals Vice President of Sales Lindsay Conwell shared with NewsChannel 21 Tuesday.

Conwell was 17 years old when two teenagers shot and killed 13 people at Columbine, and injured more than 20 others before killing themselves, shocking the nation. 

She was in the school cafeteria at the time and hid under a table.  

She now wants to support families in Uvalde experiencing the same grief. 

Meanwhile, in facing the reality of recent mass shootings, Sisters resident and behavior health specialist Lezlie Neusteter is hoping to promote major change through her year-old nonprofit, Prevent Mass Shootings Now, to help communities identify and address serious mental health warning signs.    

"I believe that mass shootings are preventable, they’re not inevitable," Neusteter said.

She started the web-based non-profit last year to point to some signs the community should look out for.

"A drastic change in appearance, a drastic change in behavior, talk of death a lot, suicidality, a new fascination with weapons" Neusteter said.

She said that recognizing a cluster of warning signs could lead to early intervention.

“Mass shooters, they don’t just snap -- they deteriorate," Neusteter said. "Most mass shooters have suffered from childhood trauma, they’re depressed, they’re angry, they’re in despair. Most are suicidal before they’re homicidal.”

Neusteter wants to create a Crisis Corps, a federal program consisting a group of specially trained mental health professionals that get people out of crisis, get stable and provide long term wrap-around care.

Though the nonprofit is still in its early stages, Neusteter offers seminars and is holding a webinar on June 22 to talk on warning signs, risks factors, and preventive strategies.

Conwell encourages those struggling through this tough time.

"Taking it day by day, and just knowing there’s a wide, large group of survivors that are here to help and support," she said.

Article Topic Follows: Community
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Bola Gbadebo

Bola Gbadebo is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Bola here.


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