Three Ways to Discuss Tragedy

Dr. Stephanie Falk, Lebanon Valley College director of counseling services and a licensed psychologist, discusses the effect tragedies may have on our campus community.


How have recent tragedies affected people emotionally and psychologically?

Increased anxiety, anger, and grief reactions. It taps into people’s fears and lack of control that we have in life. People are angry about the continual gun violence in the U.S. This type of loss of life on a grand scale triggers the feelings of loss we’ve all had in our personal lives.


What are some techniques and strategies you suggest for coping with feelings related to current events? 

Mourn the loss of life, then get active. Write your congressperson, march in protest, plant a tree in remembrance, talk with your kids or family members about how you feel about the situation, give money to a worthy cause you care about—whatever is meaningful for you. It’s OK to turn off the news since many times the replaying of these incidents tend to re-traumatize people who are prone to anxiety, anger, and depression.


How can a person best help a colleague, family member, or peer who is struggling in the wake of these issues?

Be a good listener and be supportive; don’t tell someone to “get over it.” I recommend looking at and sharing the positive stories on social media or the news such as @byHeatherLong on Twitter who tweeted about Jonathan Smith saving 30 people in Las Vegas before he was shot in the neck (he survived). We only have so many opportunities in life to be a good co-worker, partner, or friend. Take these opportunities to be that good supportive other for your loved one.