Coping with Tragic Events

It is normal to feel anxious or worried while listening, reading, or watching news of tragic and distressing events. During these times, it’s important to keep track of your mental well-being and not forget about your own self-care.
There are ways to cope. You do not need to deal with difficult times alone.


Don't ignore your mental health. We each have different needs and different ways to cope. There are several things you can do to help care for yourself or a loved one.

  • Avoid overexposing yourself and loved ones to news or social media
  • Engage in activities you don't find stressful, such as hobbies, art, games, sports, or time in nature
  • Participate in meaningful social and cultural activities, including spiritual communities
  • Work on meditation, breathing, and muscle relaxation techniques
  • Take care of your physical health: eat healthy foods, exercise, and get enough sleep
  • Seek support from mental health professional or talk to your healthcare provider
  • Stay alert – don't overdo alcohol or use other drugs as a way to cope with stress.

Sharing reactions, thoughts, and emotions can be helpful for some people, but others may not want to share. Be sensitive to one another and speak in private, as not everyone will want to hear these conversations.

See more wellness tips >

Learn strategies for reducing stress > 


After disaster or tragic events, people can feel stress, grief, guilt or anger. It's important to remember that there are ways to cope. You do not need to deal with difficult times alone.

VCBH Crisis & Referral Line
Free • Confidential • 24/7

If anyone is in immediate danger, call 911 and ask for a CIT officer


National Disaster Distress Helpline:
For anyone experiencing emotional distress related to disasters such as wildfires, earthquakes, or incident of mass violence.
Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to connect with a trained crisis counselor.
Available 24/7

Be Red Cross Ready: Taking Care of Your Emotional Health after a Disaster
This fact sheet from the American Red Cross explains normal reactions to a disaster, what a survivor can do to cope with these emotions, and where to seek additional help if needed.

Listen, Protect, Connect - Psychological First Aid from

2-1-1: For information about resources dial 211 or call 1-800-339-9597 or visit



Caring for Children During a Disaster – CDC website:

Sesame Street has videos and other resources for parents and children coping with traumatic experiences.

How to Talk to Kids About School Shootings
Strategies for dealing with anxiety – your kid's and your own.

"Help Kids Cope" App – This free mobile app provides information to help parents and other caregivers, teachers, counselors, and other prepare for and talk about disasters with kids. The app features tips and checklists to help with disaster preparation; information about how children typically respond to disasters; and links to kids’ books, activities, and other resources. Developed by the National Child Traumatic Stress Network and other organizations, the app runs on iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.

For more information and resources, see Helping Children Cope with Trauma.