What to Do When You Are Triggered by Loss In The Media

Suggestions for coping with the loss of a celebrity who impacted your life.

Posted Mar 04, 2019

On Monday March 4th, the world learned of the loss of Keith Flint, the iconic vocalist of the British band The Prodigy. The band released a statement confirming Flint’s passing. and the Essex Police have reported that the loss is not being treated as suspicious. The band members’ genuine sentiments of shock and sadness echo media statements by loved ones who have lost their beloveds in times past, including the losses of Avicii, Kate Spade, and Anthony Bourdain less than a year ago. Although this is a developing story, a heartbreaking statement sharing his confusion and anger, bandmate Liam Howlett confirmed that Flint died by suicide.  As tributes pour in memorializing the vocalist’s influence, the ripple of emotional reactions is being felt well beyond Flint’s bandmates. This heartfelt reaction is a common response when news of a lost celebrity emerges, and it is eerily akin to the surge of feelings that are evoked when an icon dies by suicide.

Wikimedia Commons
Keith Flint
Source: Wikimedia Commons

As a mental health therapist and educator, this is something I witness personally and professionally. Without ever personally knowing a celebrity, their influence on our lives cannot be discounted as learning of their loss can prompt deep and distracting reactions to our mental well-being. A wide-range of emotions may be elicited such as numbness, denial, humiliation, guilt, and the sadness, shock, anger, and confusion shared by the band.

While complicated, death by suicide is technically preventable. The premature loss of someone who has influenced your life can be particularly difficult to come to terms with. Individuals who are currently working hard at fostering their mental wellness, especially those with are coping with suicidal ideation, may be particularly affected. The influence of celebrities on our lives cannot be doubted. When an icon is lost, the news can be triggering. Don’t be tempted to trivialize your response. When this happens, be sure to tend to your mental health. Here are a few tips to tend to your grief when you learn about the loss of a celebrity by suicide:

Acknowledge your feelings

Don’t minimize your emotions. Caution telling yourself the person is just a celebrity. Loss is loss. Allow yourself to recognize the emotions you are experiencing and find healthy outlets to release. Some ideas include a personalized post, hosting a gathering, writing in a journal, praying, meditating, or counseling session.

Practice self-care

The wide range of emotions elicited by grief can be distracting and draining. Self-care is not just a trendy phrase, it is an essential practice to maintain mental wellness, particularly in times of grief. To protect your energy levels, listen to your needs by practicing self-care. Self-care is commonly associated with the stereotypical bubble bath, and that may be a valid need, but it is much more. As needs are unique, self-care varies per person. Ideally, you would familiarize yourself with your self-care strategies proactively to know how you can best cope as difficult times emerge. Self-care isn't always fun or enjoyable, as it also includes difficult self-reflection (e.g., acknowledging grief) in order to grow.

Pexels
Source: Pexels

Seek support

When affected by grief, supportive people can play an essential role in your healing process. Sharing with others who relate can help to prompt feelings of understanding and validation. Hearing how others navigate their healing can help to inspire ways for your process as well. If you notice that your mental health symptoms are exacerbating, it can be helpful to seek the help of a mental health professional.

Advocate

When learning about loss by suicide, a healing factor could be to contribute to change by investing in suicide prevention efforts. You can learn more by attending a course, engaging in meetings, discussing with a mental health professional, or researching reputable online sources. For suggestions on how you can help be a force of change read How to Contribute to Suicide Prevention.

If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts please seek help.

Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or chat online.