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National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

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Coping After A Tragedy

Our hearts are heavy after the horrific shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. It is impossible to make sense of acts of violence. However, there are a few important things we can do to help each other heal after a tragedy. The tips below can help you and your family cope during these difficult times.

Talk About the Tragedy

Even if you were not directly affected, you may feel anxious about your own safety, angry, or depressed. It is important to share these feelings with someone you trust, like a close friend, family member, or therapist. You may be the person children confide in and are struggling with what to say. This tip sheet offers suggestions about how to answer questions children may have. If you don’t have someone to confide in, call the Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). any time, day or night.

Don’t Watch (Too Much) News

There is a fine line between staying up-to-date about events and becoming upset by news and images. The media, particularly TV news station, often show the scariest parts and repeat them over and over. It is important to limit news for young children who don’t understand when or where these events are taking place.

Take Care of Yourself

You may not want to eat a healthy meal or go for a jog, but taking care of yourself will help your body deal with stress. Make it a priority to exercise each day, eat well, and plan to get a good night of sleep. You may be tempted to deal with your feelings by having a few beers or doing drugs, but positive coping skills like writing in a journal will help you heal in the long run.

Help Others

When tragedy strikes, we often look for ways to help those in need. One way to do this is to help promote life-saving services like the Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and the Disaster Distress Helpline (1-800-985-5990). You may also find comfort in taking part in a candle-light vigil or by volunteering in your community.

Adapted from “In the Wake of Trauma” from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.