Newsroom > DHHS News Release

December 18, 2012
Marla Augustine, Communications and Legislative Services, (402) 471-4047 or
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CT Events Can Stir Emotions
Lincoln—The deaths last week of children and adults at a school in Connecticut can bring up powerful emotions for some people, especially for those who have had a relative or friend murdered, according to two division directors at the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.
“People who have experienced a terrifying event in the past may have post-traumatic stress disorder or other types of anxiety.  The symptoms can be triggered by news coverage about mass tragedies,” said Scot L. Adams, director of the Division of Behavioral Health.  “Symptoms can include flashbacks, nightmares and anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.”
“Many people who go through traumatic events have difficulty adjusting and coping for a while. But with time and taking care of yourself, such traumatic reactions usually get better,” said Dr. Joann Schaefer, Chief Medical Officer and the director of the Division of Public Health.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a severe anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to any event which results in psychological trauma. This event may involve the threat of death to oneself or to someone else, or to one's own or someone else's physical, sexual, or psychological safety.
“A tragedy like this can have a ripple effect in a community,” Dr. Schaefer said.  “Those who suffer with PTSD or other types of anxiety need to know that what they are experiencing is typical, that they are not abnormal, and there is help.”
Taking care of yourself is important, she said.  Exercise, eat right and get plenty of sleep to reduce your stress level.
“Talking to someone about what you are feeling can be very important,” Adams said.  “By acknowledging anxieties and asking for help, those who suffer from PTSD or anxiety can experience a reduction in anxiety and other negative emotions.  Reach out to someone who is suffering and offer your support. ”
The Nebraska Family Helpline is available for those who personally need help or who need advice on how to talk to their children about the tragedy.  1-888-866-8660 is the number, open 24/7.  The Network of Care website can provide other resources at