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SAMHSA News - May/June 2007, Volume 15, Number 3

Virginia Tech Tragedy: Coping with Trauma

“We cannot say with certainty that this tragedy could have been avoided,” said A. Kathryn Power, M.Ed., Director of SAMHSA’s Center for Mental Health Services.

Referring to the fatal shootings of 33 students and faculty on the campus of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) in April, Ms. Power added, “We do know that communities can address many challenges when their members work together and have the means to do so.”

To help communities respond, SAMHSA has posted a wide range of diverse resources and information on the Agency Web site that provide detailed information on how to cope and provide assistance with traumatic events such as the one at Virginia Tech.

In addition, the SAMHSA-funded National Child Traumatic Stress Network recently posted the second edition of Psychological First Aid: Field Operations Guide, as well as other related information. (See Psychological First Aid.)

“We know that early intervention and prevention can stop mental illnesses from escalating,” Ms. Power added. “SAMHSA can help communities reach out to those among them who need mental health services.”

A partial list of resources is available below. For a complete listing, visit the SAMHSA Web site at

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Tools for Surviving Grief

One- to three-page tip sheets from SAMHSA provide guidance to survivors, parents, educators, and emergency-response personnel. Tip sheets include:

  • “Tips for College Students: In the Wake of Trauma”

  • “Tips for Survivors of a Traumatic Event: Managing Your Stress”

  • “Tips for Survivors of a Traumatic Event: What to Expect in Your Personal, Family, Work, and Financial Life”

  • “How to Deal with Grief.”

Visit SAMHSA’s Web site at to download individual documents in PDF format.

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Understanding Mental Illness, Reducing Stigma

SAMHSA offers several online links with information on mental illnesses and the importance of reducing stigma.

The SAMHSA Web site also includes a link to Report to the President: On Issues Raised by the Virginia Tech Tragedy, issued June 13, 2007, by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). For complete details, visit or visit the HHS Web site at

For more information about the Virginia Tech tragedy, visit For more information about mental health, visit SAMHSA's Web site at

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