Reactions to Suicide & Other Trauma - What's normal & when to seek support Share +

Posted by: coronadosafe 4 years, 9 months ago

**If you or someone you know is in need of immediate assistance please call 911.

Click HERE for more resources 

By Dr. Monique Reynolds,. Ph.D

The effects of traumatic events can often be felt throughout a community.  Witnessing the event, having a “near miss”, knowing the individuals or families involved, or hearing a lot about the event through media or friends may cause some people to have trauma reactions.  Some individuals are reminded of other traumatic life incidents they have experienced.  It is difficult to predict what kind of reaction you might have to a traumatic event, but it is important to allow yourself to have that reaction.  Trauma reactions are normal reactions to abnormal circumstances.

Typical Reactions to Trauma

If you or someone you love has in some way been involved in a traumatic event, below are some typical reactions that might be experienced. 

  • Heightened anxiety or fear
  • Irritability, restlessness, or overexcitability
  • Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, helplessness, or numbing
  • “Survivor guilt”, or feelings of self-blame that you escaped the tragedy
  • Re-experiencing of the traumatic event through thoughts, dreams or flashbacks
  • Feelings of isolation from others
  • Hypervigilance (scanning for possible danger)
  • Feelings confused or distracted, difficulty concentrating
  • Headaches, nausea, upset stomach, insomnia
  • Exaggerated startle response (tendency to startle easily at loud noises)
  • Fatigue or feeling slowed down
  • Avoidance of activities or places that remind you of the traumatic event
  • Strong need to talk about the event, read accounts about the event


Immediately following a traumatic event you will probably feel disrupted, dazed, and somewhat confused. You will notice that you are not behaving as you typically would. It is important to take care of yourself as best you can.

Self-Care After Traumatic Events

While self-care is always important throughout our typically stressful days, it is even more critical following a traumatic event.  Allow yourself to rest when fatigued, reach out and connect with others, do things that feel nurturing, and allow yourself to feel and express emotions without the numbing effects of alcohol or drugs. 

You may find yourself wanting to talk repeatedly about the traumatic events.  If you can find someone willing and able to listen, you can talk to that person about what you experienced.  If you don’t have anyone in your support network to use, consider talking to a counselor or calling a crisis line. 

Your initial response may last days, weeks, or longer. It is impossible to predict how long you will experience effects of the trauma, but usually trauma reactions gradually decrease over time. If you experience another stressful event while recovering from this trauma, you may find that your trauma reactions reappear for a while. This re-activation, or delayed trauma response, is perfectly normal. 

At any time during this process, you may find it useful to seek professional help form a counselor or mental health professional. There are some circumstances under which you should definitely seek professional help:

  • if you find yourself feeling suicidal or contemplating suicide
  • if you find that your daily functioning continues to be impaired so that you cannot carry out your life tasks
  • if post-trauma fears interfere with your ability to return to certain places or situations that remind you of the trauma

**If you or someone you know is in need of immediate assistance please call 911.

Please click HERE for a list of resources including crisis help line, text help line, and more.