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Coping with Traumatic Events
 
The ability to cope with traumatic events (suicide, family illness, terrorist attacks or natural disasters such as tsunamis or hurricanes) can be a challenge for anyone.  Yet there are ways to facilitate the acceptance process and decrease the risk of long-term negative effects. 
Below are a list of commons symptoms that might indicate a problem, as well as a series of links to helpful websites that offer guidance on coping with difficult experiences and  techniques to assist you in talking to your child.
 
 
Warning signs of coping difficulties
 
Immediate reactions (24-48 hours)
 
These behaviors are “normal” responses to a traumatic event, but should be brought to the attention of a counselor:
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Suicidal thoughts or references (click HERE for more information)
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Excessive, uncontrollable crying
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Refusal to acknowledge/discuss the event
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Mentally rehearsing (or play-acting/drawing) what happened
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Intense anger, aggression, destruction of property
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Inability to focus, excessive daydreaming
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Somatic complaints (headaches, nausea, stomach aches, hyperactivity, excessive fatigue)
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Anticipation of re-connection with the deceased (e.g. calling them and expecting them to pick up the phone, waiting for them to call, etc.)
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Concern for personal safety (self and others') leading to clinging / fear of being alone
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Increased sensitivity to loud noises (sirens, bells, thunder, backfires, etc.)
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Nightmares
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Excessive desire to spend time with peers (particularly among high school age)
 
On-going symptoms
 
These behaviors are an indication that a student is having particular difficulty and should be referred to a counselor immediately:
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Continuation of any of the above behaviors (more than 24 - 48 hours)
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Changes in eating patterns (less or more)
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Changes in sleep patterns (less or more)
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Persistent anxiety
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Self-mutilation (cutting, scratching, excessive nail biting, etc.)
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Social isolation/withdrawal
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Confused or distorted thinking
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Complete absence of emotion
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Preoccupation with death
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Talk of reunion with the deceased
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Suicidal thoughts or references (click HERE for more information)
 
 
 
 
Useful Websites (click on any icon)
     Care Plus, NJ (Tips for talking to your children about sudden loss)
     National Association of School Psychologists (helping children cope)
     National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA)
     National Child Traumatic Stress Network
     National Institute for Trauma and Loss in Children
     National Center for P.T.S.D. (common reactions to trauma)
     Center for Disease Control (coping with disaster)
     American Psychiatric Association (recommendations for students)
     American Psychiatric Association (talking to children about war and terrorism)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Last Updated: 5/21/12
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