Lansing Community College

Coping with violence and collective trauma

Many people can feel traumatized by recent events, like the ongoing invasion of Ukraine, as well as by ongoing threats to safety or media exposure to violence. We might be concerned that we or loved ones could become the victim of or witness to violent events.

Whether you are directly or indirectly impacted by violence, each person reacts differently to individual and collective trauma. Emotional responses can appear immediately or develop months later. Students without a network of support may have a more difficult time coping.

Understanding how you feel and taking positive steps to address those feelings can help you cope. Remember that, while things may never be quite the same again, they will get better and you will feel better.

Common responses to trauma
  • Disbelief and shock
  • Disorientation; difficulty making decisions or concentrating
  • Inability to focus on coursework and extracurricular activities
  • Apathy and emotional numbing
  • Sadness and depression
  • Fear and anxiety about the future
  • Intrusive thoughts; replaying events in our minds
  • Excessive worry about safety and vulnerability; feeling powerless
  • Crying for “no apparent reason”
  • Irritability and anger
  • Headaches and stomach problems
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Extreme changes in eating patterns; loss of appetite or overeating
  • Excessive use of alcohol or drugs

Tips for coping
Talk about it. Encourage others to share their perspectives. Sharing your feelings with friends, classmates, professors, advisors and family will help you work through your emotions. Talking with others will relieve stress and help you realize you’re not alone with your feelings.

Take care of yourself. Get plenty of rest and exercise. Do things that you find relaxing and soothing. Remember to eat nutritious foods. Limit your exposure to media reports and images of violence. Avoid excessive drinking and risk-taking activities. Try to maintain your usual routines.

Stay connected. Maintain contact with friends and family. Make plans to visit family or others who can offer reassurance. If you can’t visit them in person, increase your contact through phone calls and video chats.

Do something positive. Do something that will help you gain a greater sense of control (for example: give blood, attend a rally, advocate for change, collect donations or gather “care packages” for impacted people). Write letters to elected officials or get involved in activities, such as a candlelight vigil, benefit, discussion group, or lecture.

Limit media exposure. Reduce the amount of social media, television and radio information about violence, terrorism and war to which you are exposed.

Express your creativity. Writing, dancing and drawing can be healing ways to cope with your thoughts and feelings.

Ask for help. If you feel overwhelmed by events, remember it’s not a sign of weakness. Talk with a trusted friend, family member or spiritual advisor. Use campus resources or reach out to community resources, such as local mental health association.

If you have distressing feelings that won’t go away, or if you’re troubled for longer than four to six weeks, you may want to seek professional help. All students are eligible for free, confidential counseling through our Counseling Services.

*If you are in crisis or immediate danger, call 911 or the 24-hour Community Mental Health crisis line at 517-346-8460.


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