Coping with Violence, Trauma & Tragedy
It’s been a devastating week for too many communities grieving in the wake of violence. Everyone in the JED community is heartbroken and sending our support to anyone coping with anxiety, fear, tragedy and loss. Watching the news coverage and politicized arguments about solutions can be overwhelming.
It’s OK to acknowledge the pain that we’re feeling, and it’s OK to disconnect and take time to help ourselves and the people around us. To be effective advocates for change, we have to stay strong and be proactive about our emotional health.
Over the past few days, we’ve seen a lot of our online community members struggling with the best way to process the pain, communicate their opinions, and advocate for change. Our team came together to create tips to help us get through this difficult time, together. At the end of this article, you’ll find links where you can use your voice, time and resources to take a stand against discrimination, racism and the senseless violence that is devastating communities across our country.
Stop scrolling, turn the news off, put down your phone, and take a moment for yourself. Take a deep breath. While there are positive aspects of our digital lives, it can also create a channel for us to be reactive in a way that isn’t always productive. When you see or hear something about tragedy, discrimination or violence that triggers an emotional response, take a minute before you type, speak or react. Give yourself a moment to disconnect, take a few deep breaths and put things in perspective. This will help you determine which reactions are going to help you cope and contribute to solving the problem, and which reactions might cause more hurt or be counterproductive. It’s important to stay informed and to be an advocate, but we can only do that if we are taking care of ourselves as well.
TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF
When we think about the magnitude of the pain being felt by people directly impacted by a tragedy, it can be hard to give our own reactions or feelings much weight. The reality is, these tragedies impact all of us. While the instinct to jump into advocate mode and worry about our own pain later is reasonable, it isn’t always effective or healthy. To be effective advocates for change and the loudest voices for victims and their families, we have to take care of ourselves first. It’s OK to disconnect and focus on When we think about the magnitude of the pain being felt by people directly impacted by violence and tragedy, it can be hard to give our own reactions or feelings much weight. The reality is, this trauma impacts all of us. While the instinct to jump into advocate mode and worry about our own pain later is reasonable, it isn’t always effective or healthy. To be effective advocates for change and the loudest voices for victims and their families, we have to take care of ourselves first. It’s OK to disconnect and focus on something else to better process our feelings. It’s OK to go for a walk, go to the gym, or turn off the news and turn on some music. And it’s OK to reach out to friends, a family member or a counselor to help you find the best ways to cope.
TAKE CARE OF OTHERS
Those of us who have dealt with trauma, discrimination and/or violence in our own lives or who are managing a mental health condition like depression, may be more vulnerable to feelings of hopelessness after news of a violence and tragedy. We don’t always know what our friends, coworkers or family members have been through or the battles they are fighting. In difficult moments, it’s important that we are looking out for each other. Take a minute to look at some of the warning signs of depression, distress and hopelessness (see list below). If you notice someone is struggling, trust your instinct and start a conversation. Here are some tips for starting that conversation.
TAKE THOUGHTFUL ACTIONS
When faced with violence and loss, our gut instinct is often “I have to do something.” Sometimes, this results in people reposting news articles or videos about the tragedy, expressing anger, or participating in arguments on and offline that make us feel more divided. When you feel the instinct to repost a story with disturbing details or videos of violence, take a minute to ask yourself why you are sharing it. Make sure your purpose in sharing the article is to provide information that contributes to a solution, highlight action items your friends and followers can take, or offers resources or support to those who might need it. Constructive conversations on social media or at work/school can help educate and mobilize advocates. When conversations turn into name-calling and political mudslinging, they are no longer effective and can add to the anxiety and frustration we are feeling.
Taking care of ourselves and others, responding to discussions about violence in a way that is effective and not reactive, and focusing our
Here are some common signs that someone might be struggling emotionally and need support:
- Depression or apathy that interferes with obligations or participating in social activities
- Lack of coping skills around day-to-day problems or extreme reactions to miminally stressful situations
- Extreme highs, referred to as mania, that may include rushed thoughts, bursts of energy, sleeplessness and compulsive behavior (like excessive spending or promiscuous sexual behavior)
- Severe anxiety or stress
- Constant feelings of sadness or hopelessness
- Increased use of alcohol or drugs
Here are some warning signs that someone might be feeling hopeless or thinking about suicide:
- Rage, uncontrolled anger, or seeking revenge
- Acting recklessly or engaging in risky activities, seemingly without thinking
- Feeling trapped or like there’s no way out
- Increased alcohol or drug use
- Withdrawing from friends, family, and society
- Anxiety, agitation, unable to sleep or sleeping all the time
- Dramatic mood changes
- Expressing no reason for living or no sense of purpose in life
- Prior suicide attempts
If you notice these signs in yourself or someone you know, take action now. Visit a doctor or therapist, or have a conversation about your concerns with someone you trust. In the US, you can text HOME to 741741 for a confidential chat with a trained counselor anytime. You can also call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) 24/7 to get support for yourself or for a friend.