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Helping Your Children Understand and Heal Following the MSU Shooting

Michigan State faculty and students are still healing after the shooting on campus on Feb. 13.

Talking to your kids about the shooting can be challenging, especially when everyone grieves and handles trauma differently.

Clinical psychologist Diana Volant from Traverse City and clinical social worker Rocky Carrigan from Grayling are both proud Michigan State University graduates.


Together they knew what they learned at MSU could be used to help those healing from the tragedy at a place they call home.

“We are part of the support system right now for anyone needing psychological services or therapy because of the events at Michigan State,” said Volant.

Carrigan added, “I’m offering, at least probably through March, any MSU family, student, faculty or extended MSU family members. If they need to talk, I’m available. I will make myself available, and it’ll be pro-bono as well.”

Conversations about events like the MSU shooting can be hard to navigate with children of any age.


Volant says if your child is under 8, only bring it up if there is a high chance they will be exposed to information.

If you do talk to them about it, stick to the facts.

“How can we talk about and educate our kids when they ask questions about the shooting to teach them about gun safety, how guns are not toys. They are very important weapons that should be used only when you’re taught how to use them well in age,” said Volant. “We also really want to focus on flipping the script and focusing on the heroes of the story who were there to help, who came to really help those in need, and who are still helping the people who are grieving or suffering loss.”

For parents of older children, especially those attending MSU, show your support and understanding.


“Let them have that space to openly talk about it, to validate their feelings and concerns. They’re genuine. They’re theirs,” said Carrigan. “Be cautious of your emotions while you’re there with it, keeping your opinions out of it and sticking to the facts.”

Anxiety and fear about situations like the MSU shooting are normal, and one of the best ways to cope with those feelings is preparedness.

“Make sure that you are taking any kind of drills at school very seriously,” said Volant.

“To even feel a little bit more confident within yourself, you can take self-defense courses, something on that line to feel safe and know your surroundings,” said Carrigan.

Limiting your time on social media can also help, and never be afraid to ask for professional help.

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