Lehigh University
Lehigh University


Coping with the Virginia Tech tragedy

The impact of the recent shootings on the Virginia Tech campus is not limited to the victims of the shootings and their loved ones. The unpredictable and random nature of this attack can result in fear, anxiety, anger, sadness, stress, and other emotions for the general population. It is not uncommon for people to be concerned that their thoughts and feelings about these events are abnormal. Those with children have additional concerns about safety and the emotional impact of such incidents. In addition to the daily demands of work, family, and friends, such troubling events compel us to pay closer attention to our emotions than usual.

People have a wide range of emotional responses. Some may alter their usual behavior patterns (such as not going out to dinner), while others may be taking more extreme measures, such as keeping their children home from school or refusing to leave their homes.

In order to reduce the effects on you and your loved ones, you may want to employ some of the following coping skills:

1. Maintain control over those things that you can. If you walk for
exercise, continue to walk and by all means, continue your daily

2. Limit your television news viewing. Tune in for occasional
updates, but avoid sitting in front of the television waiting for
the next news update. Instead, turn to a movie or read a book.

3. If it makes you feel better to keep your family members close by,
do it.
Be cautious about the personal safety of yourself and your
family members. But try to avoid overreacting.

4. Do something for someone else. Taking attention off your own
worries and doing something nice for someone else can improve your
own frame of mind.

5. Volunteer. Contact area schools, hospitals, or volunteer groups
to ask how you can help. Taking action to be part of a solution is
a very constructive way of reducing your anxiety.

6. Talk to someone. If you start to feel overwhelmed by your
feelings, talk to a friend, family member, doctor, religious
advisor, or a behavioral health professional. Often, talking about
your fears is enough to reduce your anxiety.

The Employee Assistance Program is here to help. Please call 1-800-395-1616 to talk with a counselor if you feel that you are having a difficult time coping with this or any other situation. The services are confidential and are available to you at no cost.

The Employee Assistance Program offers the following articles that might be helpful:

Effective strategies for dealing with traumatic events

Helping children to cope with violence

You might find the following links valuable as well.

Five Things You Can Do as an Organization in the Aftermath of the Virginia Tech Incident

From the National Institute of Mental Health

Responding to the Virginia Tech Tragedy from Paperclip Communications, an organization that serves the academic community

Also, many employers will be interested in training on Violence in the Workplace. There is a free 27-minute video available to any business organization from the National Institute on Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Although it may take a while to download, it is an excellent resource. To download the video, click here.

Posted on Thursday, April 19, 2007

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