Secondary trauma in reaction to national or local tragedy

After tragic events, it is generally understood that people could likely feel traumatized.  People directly associated with a tragedy will feel a kind of traumatic stress. Moreover, people can also be impacted by terrible tragedy when exposed in a second hand fashion. For many of you, after learning of the horrific events of 911, you had to endure a month or more of additional news casts, documentaries, etc. rehashing the the terrible event and enabling you to re-experience it over and over. It is similar with the recent terrifying event  in Connecticut. Two weeks after the tragedy, you cannot find a news episode that does not mention the event in some form, serving as a grim reminder, not letting you move on in your normal process.

The grief that people associate with such tragedy is the the most quickly understood and accepted. The grief of the rest of those who have experienced it second-hand through their TV sets, blogs, radio, word of mouth is often less validated. There is a very real traumatic reaction that you experience when processing these tragedies by indirect means and we call this Secondary Trauma.

Be mindful that you have undergone a traumatic event. Realize that you must go through a grieving process, irregardless of it being on a smaller scale than those directly impacted. If you are having trouble moving forward after the recent tragedy, this is understandable. A horrible tragedy can be painful, scary and traumatic to those witnessing it through media. A few tips:

* Give yourself a break from reading about the tragedy or watching it on the news. Repeated viewing and hearing of the offending tragic news will only serve to exacerbate this already irritating stress.

* If you are feeling the effects of traumatic stress such as undue sadness, tearfulness, hopelessness/helplessness,frequent anger/rage, anxiety. Talk to a supportive friend, therapist

* Utilize coping skills. If you feel yourself getting emotionally upset practice coping strategies (i.e. take a walk/other exercise, read a book, deep breathing)

Here’s more on secondary trauma:

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