You may be struggling to understand
how a shooting could occur and why such a terrible
thing would happen. There may never be satisfactory
answers to these questions.
We do know,
though, that it is typical for people to experience
a variety of emotions following such a traumatic
event. These feelings can include shock, sorrow,
numbness, fear, anger, disillusionment, grief
and others. You may find that you have trouble
sleeping, concentrating, eating or remembering
even simple tasks. This is common and should
pass after a while. Over time, the caring support
of family and friends can help to lessen the
emotional impact and ultimately make the changes
brought about by the tragedy more manageable.
You may feel that the world is a more dangerous
place today than you did yesterday. It will
take some time to recover your sense of equilibrium.
you may wonder how to go on living your daily
life. You can strengthen your resilience—the
ability to adapt well in the face of adversity—in
the days and weeks ahead.
Here are some
about it — Ask for support from
people who care about you and who will listen
to your concerns. Receiving support and care
can be comforting and reassuring. It often helps
to speak with others who have shared your experience
so you do not feel so different or alone.
for balance — When a tragedy
occurs, it’s easy to become overwhelmed
and have a negative or pessimistic outlook.
Balance that viewpoint by reminding yourself
of people and events which are meaningful and
comforting, even encouraging. Striving for balance
empowers you and allows for a healthier perspective
on yourself and the world around you.
it off and take a break — You
may want to keep informed, but try to limit
the amount of news you take in whether it’s
from the internet, television, newspapers or
magazines. While getting the news informs you,
being overexposed to it can actually increase
your stress. The images can be very powerful
in reawakening your feeling of distress. Also,
schedule some breaks to distract yourself from
thinking about the incident and focus instead
on something you enjoy. Try to do something
that will lift your spirits.
your feelings — Remember that
it is common to have a range of emotions after
a traumatic incident. You may experience intense
stress similar to the effects of a physical
injury. For example, you may feel exhausted,
sore, or off balance.
care of yourself — Engage in
healthy behaviors to enhance your ability to
cope with excessive stress. Eat well-balanced
meals, get plenty of rest, and build physical
activity into your day. Avoid alcohol and drugs
because they can suppress your feelings rather
than help you to manage and lessen your distress.
In addition, alcohol and drugs may intensify
your emotional or physical pain. Establish or
reestablish routines such as eating meals at
regular times and following an exercise program.
If you are having trouble sleeping, try some
relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing,
meditation, or yoga.
others or do something productive —
Locate resources in your community on ways that
you can help people who have been affected by
this incident, or have other needs. Helping
someone else often has the benefit of making
you feel better, too.
you have recently lost friends or family in
this or other tragedies — Remember
that grief is a long process. Give yourself
time to experience your feelings and to recover.
For some, this might involve staying at home;
for others it may mean getting back to your
daily routine. Dealing with the shock and trauma
of such an event will take time. It is typical
to expect many ups and downs, including "survivor
guilt"— feeling bad that you escaped
the tragedy while others did not.
For many people,
using the tips and strategies mentioned above
may be sufficient to get through the current
crisis. At times, however an individual can
get stuck or have difficulty managing intense
reactions. A licensed mental health professional
such as a psychologist can assist you in developing
an appropriate strategy for moving forward.
It is important to get professional help if
you feel like you are unable to function or
perform basic activities of daily living.
from such a tragic event may seem difficult
to imagine. Persevere and trust in your ability
to get through the challenging days ahead. Taking
the steps in this guide can help you cope at
this very difficult time.
sheet was made possible with help from the following
APA members: Dewey Cornell, PhD, Richard A.
Heaps, PhD, Jana Martin, PhD, H. Katherine O’Neill,
PhD, Karen Settle, PhD, Peter Sheras, PhD, Phyllis
Koch-Sheras, PhD, and members of Division 17.