Coping with Violence

warrior pride1I am a warrior.  I am proud to be one, but on December 13, 2013 the circumstances at Arapahoe High School were nothing to feel proud about.  It was senseless violence, in a school…again.  Understanding what happened and why will be unfolding over the months ahead, but for now, this event brings up a good topic for everyone to consider:  How to cope with violence.

I am going to focus on the mental health side of coping, even though there are many other areas to cover.  The change that happens in someone’s brain when they encounter violence is clear.  It is life-changing.  Thought patterns change, biology changes, and life will not quite hold the same innocence as it once may have.  Everyone will have a reaction to the trauma and need to take time to allow themselves to process though it.  This may happen right away, but it may not.  For some people, it is too scary to talk much about and that is okay.  Even just talking about it can re-traumatize someone, so it is important to move at an individual’s pace.

Here are a few things that may help:

* Get back into a routine

* Be around others who experienced the trauma

* Talk about it as much as you need to

* Increase self care activities (exercise, hobbies, friends, spa treatments)

* Ask for help if needed

Some people are not able to cope and quickly recover from trauma.  These individuals are at risk for developing PTSD.   To see a list of  symptoms for PTSD, click here.  If any of these symptoms emerge, it is important to seek treatment as soon as possible.  The World Health Organization recommends EMDR for the treatment of PTSD.  You can read more about the WHO’s treatment recommendations here.  To read more about EMDR, click here.

Violence is difficult to deal with, especially for kids and teens.  The good news is that there are effective treatments available.  In the case of the kids, teachers and staff from Arapahoe High School, there is also a very large community offering support in every way possible.

Those wishing to donate to the “Arapahoe High School Community Fund Honoring Claire Davis” can do so online by visiting denverfoundation.org

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