In The Aftermath Of A Tragic Event On Campus: What Family Members Can Do

As a parent, one of your most important concerns is the safety and well-being of your child. When a horrific act of violence happens, you may be wondering how you can help. College students will react differently. Some will seem to come through the experience unscathed. Later, some may begin to have delayed reactions. Others will react strongly from the start, even if they have not experienced a personal loss or had their safety threatened directly. However, most students have normal and typical reactions to these abnormal circumstances.



It may be painful, but the best thing you can do for your student is to listen to them talk about the tragic event. Talking and journaling are healthy and natural ways for young adults to work through their reactions.


Feel free to hold and comfort your student more during this time. They are reaching out to you for security right now, and a little extra love and affection can help.


You can also reassure your student that they are now safe. Remind them that you and university staff members are taking precautions to protect them.

Not being overprotective.

This may be the most difficult to do, but you must fight the temptation to overprotect your child. It may be very hard even to let them out of your sight, but it’s important that they return to a regular routine as soon as they are able.

Being a good example.

Actions speak louder than words, and, by your actions, you can set an example for your student on how to handle these reactions in a productive way.

Seeking help if your student is suffering severe problems.

If your student has had serious losses, such as the death of a loved one, they may need more help. Encourage your student to see a professional if they are having extreme reactions to the tragic event, such as repeated nightmares, flashbacks, crying spells, behavior problems and panic reactions.

You are not alone.

MSU Counseling & Psychiatric Services (CAPS) provides free, remote crisis services 24/7/365. Students can call the CAPS Crisis Line at 517-355-8270 and press “1” when prompted to speak with a crisis counselor.