How to Handle and Process Tragic News - 96five Family Radio

How to Handle and Process Tragic News

As we come to terms with recent news events, it's important that we take the time to talk and process how we're feeling.

By 96five NetworkTuesday 16 Apr 2024NewsReading Time: 3 minutes

Warning: The following article contains content that some readers may find distressing. If you need support, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit lifeline.org.au.

Our nation is in shock after the violent stabbing at Bondi, which saw six people killed and several hospitalised.

This was followed by stabbing of a bishop in Sydney’s west amongst other difficult news stories that circulate our tvs and social media feeds.

How do we express our feelings in the wake of this tragedy?

96five’s Jess Drummond spoke with Ruth Larwill about how we can care for ourselves and for one another, in the coming days, weeks and months.

Ruth Larwill has a BA in Psychology and an MA in Trauma Counselling and specialises in clients with complex trauma at her private psychotherapy practice in Brisbane, Australia. She is also the Founder and Director of Trauma Aftercare at Bloom Asia – an anti-trafficking NGO that supports survivors of sex-trafficking with trauma therapy, vocational training and employment in SE Asia.

“We don’t need to be afraid of feelings” Ruth said.

“So, when we experience joy, that’s telling us that this is a good thing… when we experience disgust and sadness and anger, that’s also a message that needs to be heard and we can actually own that.

“I think a lot of people feel that they’ll be overwhelmed by that feeling, but actually, we can say, ‘I’m going to make room’.

Feeling sadness or anger is a normal response to tragic events and it’s important to acknowledge those feelings.

Preventing Trauma

Ruth explained how you can prevent those feelings from turning into a trauma response.

“Trauma is when you feel overwhelmed and powerless” Ruth explained.

“If we have agency, if we say, ‘no, I’m not overwhelmed, I’m not powerless’ and instead focus on what can I do to move towards connection, making this world a better place. Because then you’re no longer feeling powerless.

Ruth encouraged behaviours like calling your mum, saying hi to a friend, checking in with somebody as this will give you a sense that things aren’t out of control.

Limit Your Input

Ruth encouraged being present and aware of the news and negativity you’re consuming.

“The brain works by taking in data and then it predicts the next second, five seconds, and it actually predicts what you should feel, what you should think and how you should behave.

So, if you are constantly bombarding this control center of your brain… the only way out of that is to be mindful and go, ‘I actually will stop feeling this or seeing this’.

Ruth encouraged setting a limit like catching up on the news once a day or once in the evening.

“Limit what’s coming in. Trying to notice how you feel in the moment and breaking the circuit when you realize that this content is having a negative impact on you.”

Ways we can all help

Often, being able to do something small, in an effort to help those who are suffering, helps us move through our emotions. That might be giving financially to an organisation which works to help people with mental illness, or to write a letter to the local police station or shopping centre security guards to thank them for everything they do to keep our communities safe.

Additionally, in times like this, it’s a good reminder that giving blood is a vital way to support victims of events such as what we’ve seen this week.

Help is available

For support visit:


Header image: Photo by CanvaPro