Resources for Trauma, Grief, and Tragedy

Talking with Children about Tragic Events
Children, Families, and Traumatic Loss (PDF)
What Do We Tell the Children? (PDF)
Tragic Shootings: How Can We Protect Our Loved Ones and Ourselves From Violent Attacks?
Helping Children Regain Their Emotional Safety After a Tragedy
Helping Children Understand Grief (PDF)
Grief Handbook for Teens (PDF)

Resources for Coping:

Help for Children, Youth, Parents, and Providers’ Reactions in response to traumatic events

For Those Experiencing Distress

The Disaster Distress Helpline (1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746) provides immediate counseling to anyone who needs help in dealing with many problems arising from the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut. You can also access the Helpline’s website – or follow on Twitter at @distressline.
Sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the Helpline is a 24 hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week resource available for those who are experiencing psychological distress as a result of natural or man-made disasters, incidents of mass violence or any other tragedy affecting America’s communities. The Helpline immediately connects callers to trained and caring professionals from the closest crisis counseling center in the nationwide network of centers.  The Helpline staff will provide confidential counseling, referrals and other needed support services.
SAMHSA also operates a treatment locator ( where people can find information about local mental health and substance abuse treatment services in their area as well as information on coping with violence and traumatic events. 

Highlighted Resources for Children, Parents, and Educators from SAMHSA

Children and YouthSAMHSA Disaster Behavioral Health Information Series installment

This SAMHSA Disaster Behavioral Health Information Series installment focuses on the reactions and mental health needs of children and youth after a disaster and contains resources from both the child trauma and disaster behavioral health fields. The collection includes an annotated bibliography and a section with helpful links to organizations, agencies, and other resources that address disaster preparedness and response issues surrounding children and youth.

Tips for talking with and helping children and youth cope after a disaster or traumatic event: A guide for parents, caregivers, and teachers

This tip sheet helps parents, caregivers, and teachers to recognize and address stress responses in children and youth affected by traumatic events such as automobile accidents and disasters. It describes stress reactions that are commonly seen in young trauma survivors from various age groups and offers tips on how to help as well as resources.

Cultural Awareness: Children and Youth in Disasters Podcast

The goal of this 60-minute podcast is to assist disaster behavioral health responders in providing culturally aware and appropriate disaster behavioral health services for children, youth, and families impacted by natural and human-caused disasters. Featured speakers include April Naturale, Ph.D., of SAMHSA DTAC and Russell T. Jones, Ph.D., of Virginia Tech University.

 Psychosocial issues for children and adolescents in disasters

This booklet includes resources for people working with children after a disaster. It covers child development theories in relation to how youth respond emotionally to disasters. It also features suggestions, case studies, and a resource guide.

Supplemental research bulletin: Children and disasters

This Research Bulletin from SAMHSA examines the emotional impact that natural and human-caused disasters have on children and youth. Developed in July 2012, this bulletin examines five recently published research and literature review articles and provides a discussion of the risk factors linked to children’s responses to disaster, protective factors, and resilience. It concludes with suggestions about policy and practice.

Resources from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network

  • It’s okay to remember
    This video provides information regarding traumatic grief in children, addresses the three main types of trauma reminders, and illustrates how families can experience the pain of loss and then heal. It features physicians and experts in the field and is appropriate for parents and others who care for children.
  • Parent Tips for Infants and Toddlers

This document offers a grid to help parents with infants and toddlers understand how their child may be feeling—it also offers an in-depth list of how parents can help their young children cope with disaster.

PDF: English  | Chinese | Japanese | Spanish

  • Parent Tips for Preschoolers

This document provides information for parents including reactions and/or behavior that may occur after a disaster including suggestions for what to say and do once the disaster is over.

PDF: English  | Chinese | Japanese | Spanish

  • Parent Tips for School-age Children

This document offers information on common reactions after a disaster and how parents can respond to their school-age children.

PDF: English  | Chinese | Japanese | Spanish

  • Parent Tips for Adolescents

This document will provide parents with tips for how to respond to their adolescent child after a disaster. The tips include possible reactions, responses, and examples of things to do and say.

PDF: English  | Chinese | Japanese | Spanish 

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Additional Resources for Children, Parents, and Educators

Helping children cope with violence and disasters

The National Institute for Mental Health produced this page of guidance to educators, parents, professional caregivers, and community members on practical steps that can help children cope with exposure to violence either firsthand or in the media.


Tips for adults on how to talk with children about the Connecticut school shooting


This resource is being promoted by the U.S. Department of Education, and provides practical assistance for parents, child care providers, teachers, and other adults on how to answer children’s questions


After a loved one dies—how children grieve; And how parents and other adults can support them

This 26-page booklet is for parents and other adults to help children who have suffered the loss of a parent or loved one to get through their grief.

Helping students cope with media coverage of disasters: A fact sheet for teachers and school staff
According to this fact sheet, it “provides an overview of how media coverage of a disaster may affect students and suggests strategies that people working in schools can use to address these effects. The strategies described in this fact sheet can be used by teachers, school counselors, school social workers, other school staff members, and school administrators.

Helping your child cope with media coverage of disasters: A fact sheet for parents
According to the document, this fact sheet “provides an overview of how media coverage of a disaster may affect your child and suggests strategies that parents can use to address these effects.
Responding to stressful events: Helping children cope
This packet contains information on helping children cope after a stressful event. It provides information on common reactions and coping techniques.

 Talk, listen, connect: When families grieve
This collection of resources addresses the difficult topic of the death of a parent and helps families cope with complex emotions, honor the life of a loved one, and find strength in each other. There are components for military families and nonmilitary families.

Understanding child traumatic stress

This document discusses the cognitive response to danger as it relates to traumatic experiences or traumatic stress throughout all developmental stages, particularly in children. It provides an overview of post-traumatic stress responses and their severity and duration, as well as post-traumatic stress after chronic or repeated trauma.

Children and Grief

Information on supporting children and youth who are grieving losses, from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Information on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in children and youth from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

Understanding Violent Behavior in Children and Adolescents

Information from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

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Resources on Trauma and Mass Violence:

  • Mental Health and Mass Violence: Evidence-Based Early Psychological Intervention for Victims/Survivors of Mass ViolenceThis report is targeted to those who deliver psychological interventions to emotionally distressed persons following mass violence, to those who research these issues, and to employers who want to help workers who have experienced this type of emotional trauma. It is also intended to aid officials who must decide what mental health help to include in the local, state, and national responses to survivors of mass violence and terrorism.
  • Mental Health Care for Ethnic Minority Individuals and Communities in the Aftermath of Disasters and Mass Violence—This paper reviews research that indicates that ethnic minorities (African American, Asian Americans, Native Americans, and Latinos) may suffer more adverse psychological consequences after disasters and mass violence than do white Americans. Guidelines are provided so that disaster behavioral health services can become more culturally responsive and traditional barriers are reduced.
  • Mental Health Response to Mass Violence and Terrorism: A Field Guide—This SAMHSA publication is intended for mental health and disaster workers; first responders; government agency employees; and crime victim assistance, faith-based, healthcare, and other service providers who assist survivors and families during the aftermath of mass violence and terrorism. Please let us know if you would like additional free copies.
  • Responding to Victims of Terrorism and Mass Violence CrimesThis booklet describes the relationship between the Office of Victims of Crime and the American Red Cross and provides guidance about crime victims’ rights and needs as well as how to assist victims of terrorism and mass violence crime.  It provides a comparison of how natural disasters are similar to and different from disasters caused by criminal human behavior and notes the psychological effects of each.
  • Violence and Mental Illness: The FactsThis SAMHSA website discusses the importance of understanding mental illness and promoting social inclusion.

Resources on Retraumatization and Chronic Stress:

Addressing the Traumatic Impact of Disaster on Individuals, Families, and Communities

Presented at the After the Crisis Initiative: Healing from Trauma after Disasters Expert Panel Meeting. This white paper addresses healing from the trauma induced by a disaster, especially in terms of regaining normalcy and offering and receiving peer support. In addition, the paper focuses on restoring communities with the supports necessary to be sensitive to the recovery from trauma by individuals, children, and families.

Coping with Stress

This webpage from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides clear concise information on coping with stress related to a traumatic event.
Lessons Learned from School Crises and Emergencies

This publication from the U.S. Department of Education Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools discusses retraumatization at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) following the 2007 campus shooting of 32 individuals.

Tips for Survivors of a Traumatic Event: Managing Your Stress

This tip sheet outlines the common signs of stress after a disaster and provides stress reduction strategies.
Trauma and Retraumatization

Presented at the After the Crisis Initiative: Healing from Trauma after Disasters Expert Panel Meeting, this resource paper presents an exposition on the types of trauma and its cumulative and intergeneration effects. It speaks particularly to the continued retraumatization that results from experiencing a disaster.
Tips for Survivors of a Traumatic Event: Managing Your Stress
This tip sheet outlines the common signs of stress after a disaster and provides stress reduction strategies.