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DMH Issues Guidelines to Help Cope with the Aftermath of Virginia Tech

Friday, April 20, 2007
This information can help identify and cope with the anxiety related to mass violence and terrorism.

The following information can help you identify and cope with anxiety related to mass violence and terrorism.

No one who witnesses the consequences of mass violence is unaffected by it.

Research has shown that those who directly experience violent victimization and mass traumatization, witness, the serious injury and physical mutilation of others, or suffer the murder of a loved one have a likelihood of intense and prolonged emotional, behavioral, and physical reactions. They are likely to suffer high levels of distress during the immediate response phase and may have periods of difficulty for years to come.

All people react in their own way to violence.

Normal reactions include:


  • Headaches, tiredness
  • Fast pulse, high blood pressure
  • Changes in appetite
  • Unexplained aches or pains
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Stomach aches


  • Panic, anxiety<
  • Distrust, fear
  • Anger, irritability
  • Sadness, depression
  • Blame
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Increased stress


  • Trouble concentrating
  • Problems with work or school
  • Memory problems
  • Troubling thoughts that won’t go away
  • Concern about health issues


  • Avoiding others
  • Increased substance abuse
  • Excessive cleaning or washing
  • Being overly cautious, jumpiness

Here are some ways you can cope with stress and anxiety:

  • Limit your exposure to graphic news stories
  • Get accurate, timely information from reliable sources
  • Maintain your normal daily routine, if you can
  • Exercise, eat well and rest
  • Stay active – physically and mentally
  • Stay in touch with family and friends
  • Find comfort in your spiritual and personal beliefs
  • Keep a sense of humor
  • Find healthy ways to express your feelings.

If you or someone you know is having a hard time managing their emotions, seek help from a medical or mental health professional.

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