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More than any country in the world, the United States has a problem with mass violence. When somethng tragic happens to a considerably large group of American citizens, the rest of the country and indeed the world are kept up to date, twenty-four hours a day. Gruesome images, first-hand witness videos, pictures, and details are cycled through the newshour after hour, day after day. The recycling of information and media is not exclusive to news on the TV. Social media channels also immediately become flooded. Everywhere you turn, the tragedy is there.

Trauma was once believed to be a phenomenon exclusive to soldiers in active battle. Nothing could be so impactful on the mind then what a soldier witnesses in the field. Quickly, professionals realized that many of the symptoms displayed by veterans struggling to cope with trauma were symptoms of others who had not been in battle before. Today, there is a more broad understanding of trauma, which includes first, second, and third party accounts. Watching the news for hours of the day and indulging in detailed media about a tragedy can create symptoms of trauma. Third party disturbance is a real problem. Without living through the tragedy itself, an individual can feel as though they were there and were affected. Many of the images and videos are disturbing, which can have an affect on the mind. However, many people have lived through traumas of their own. Whether confronted or not, traumatic tragedy on the news can trigger trauma for others, creating a retraumatization.

Judy Crane, author of The Wounded Heart: Stories of Survival, Hope & Healing defines trauma as “Any life event or series of life events or ongoing life events that create a negative impact on your life that changes or distorts your vision of yourself and your place in the world.” Witnessing traumatic tragedy through the news is a life event, one that can create a negative impact on you to the extent that it distorts your vision of yourself and your place in the world. Such tragic and trying times are a challenge to faith and belief.

Limit your intake of news to just a few minutes a day and try to avoid any particularly vivid media. Talk to someone you trust about what is coming up for you in the news and how it is having an impact on you. Remember that while bad things happen in life that feel dangerous, there is still a tremendous amount of good that feels safe.