PTSD :: Grief & trauma in the aftermath of Virginia Tech Shootings

Experts in grieving and post-traumatic stress disorder are available as sources for media covering the aftermath of the tragic shootings at Virginia Tech.

In a situation like yesterday?s shootings at Virginia Tech, the main emotion is fear, says Thomas T. Frantz, Ph.D., Professor and Chair of Counseling, University at Buffalo, author of “Death and Grief in the Family.?

The students need as much psychological and physical security as possible, Franz says.

The best support for students right now is each other, he adds. ?The campus needs to encourage meetings, sessions in dorms, to allow students to talk about it. If classes are being held, professors should talk about it at least during the first part of class so people can feel support from each other.?

?A lot of people will be in shock and will be hard to reach emotionally. It?s important to be present for those people, especially those who seem quiet or withdrawn, but not necessarily with a lot of words. Just be present physically. People in shock may not be ready to talk yet.?

?Later, the grieving process will start. Some people will feel guilt, anger. All these emotions need a chance to come out. Students will need to have to opportunity to talk and they need to be told it?s OK to cry, it?s OK to be angry.?

Frantz says a complicating factor in the healing process will be ?secondary grief.? Anybody on campus with a grief issue ? feelings they haven?t resolved about their parents divorce, the death of a grandparent, breaking up with a girlfriend ? all that will be retriggered, ?so there will be a lot of grief on campus beyond the death of so many people. The campus is going to be more full than usual with people feeling a lot of grief.?

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