It can be completely overwhelming, terrifying, and all-consuming to hear about horrible tragedies on the news. It can feel like everyday, something terrible is happening somewhere in the world, and there's absolutely nothing you can do about it. For instance, last night we all learned the news that there was a horrific bombing at Ariana Grande's Dangerous Woman Tour concert in Manchester, United Kingdom, which claimed the lives of 22 people – among them children and teens – and wounded many more.
How do you make sense of senseless violence? How do you cope with its aftermath? Does this mean we should never go to big concert venues again? How do you stay informed about the happenings of the world, without letting the negativity take you over?
While there is obviously no right answer to those questions (if only it were so simple!) there are a few different steps you can take to help get yourself through a tragedy, no matter how close to it or far away you are.
First of all, it's important to go about your regular schedule.
In many cases, acts of terrorism especially are aimed at frightening people, and making them fearful of going about their everyday business. It's natural to think, "well, I'm certainly never going to a concert ever again after what's just happened," but that means you are letting a scary event take something away from you that you once loved and enjoyed.
But that doesn't mean you shouldn't be safe.
While it's important not to live your life in fear that something catastrophic is bound to happen at any given moment, it is important to be vigilant and subtly on the lookout for anything that feels unsafe or out of place. As the always-wise saying goes, "If you see something, say something."
Don't forget to let your parents or guardians know where you are in scary times too. If a family member is calling you, pick up if it's safe to, and give them updates. (If you're in a bad situation, don't be afraid to alert them after getting immediate on-the-scene help too. Even if they were to get mad at you because you're at a place you shouldn't be, they will work to forgive it after they know you're safe.)
Help when you can. Appreciate the helpers when you can't.
If you're very close to a tragedy, offer up the help you are able to give. You can circulate accurate resources and information on social media, donate goods to those in need, or reach out to those suffering. Sometimes you won't be able to contribute in these tangible ways, but you can always recognize the help other people do, whether they are emergency first responders, caregivers, and other Good Samaritans.
But helping can also mean looking out for a friend who is troubled by the news, and giving them your ear as they talk out their problems. That is no less of a contribution.
It's totally okay to distract yourself.
When major news is happening somewhere in the universe, it can sometimes feel like you should dedicate all of your time and energy to it. Live stream the news. Refresh Twitter for more updates. But it's important to remind yourself that it is totally okay to turn off your phone, leave the living room where your parents have the scary and graphic news blaring on the TV, and escape to your happier place. It's not wrong to go through tons of cute animal photos, gush over cute boys eating pancakes or read up on the latest celeb beauty news instead of pouring over crime scene photos. You're not being willfully ignorant, you're taking care of yourself – especially if you know these things upset you.
It's also 100% okay to get help.
Especially if you witnessed a horrific event firsthand.
Talk to your parents – and give them a bit of a break if they don't have all the answers you're looking for. After all, in senseless acts like these, there is literally no sense to be found, and we're all figuring it out together. But your family is likely to have the life experience, love, and support you need. Plus, they know you best, so they can help calm you down, and talk specific emergency preparedness plans with you.
Talk to professionals – that's what they're here for! Speaking with a doctor can help you establish really personalized plans for how to cope with anxiety, depression, and other mental health concerns. You can also reach out to the Crisis Text Line for confidential counseling and support.
If you are in the Manchester area or surrounding UK and are directly affected by the latest tragic events, there are specific resources created just for you. Police set up emergency number 0800 096 0095 for those who are concerned about loved ones who may have been in the area. If you feel upset or anxious about the news, you can also talk to Childline at 0800 1111.