Tragedy in the news could make you ill

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - This has been a most unusual week for tragedy and disasters in the news. There's the Boston bombing and subsequent manhunt, the plant explosion in Texas and the case involving "ricin" letters.

And with so many tragic stories, it's easy for some people to get overwhelmed.

"The events that are happening this week are not your typical disasters that we deal with," said Scott Sumrall, the Disaster Preparedness and Response Director for the Department of Mental Health in Mississippi.

He says with so much tragedy in the news, some people can get overwhelmed with stress or even physical problems like headaches or nausea.

"All you can do is encourage people to just step away from it now and then. Yes, it's interesting. Yes, you want to know what's happening. You want to have the most current information. But if it starts to bear on you, step away from it. You have to," he explained.

"I think it has a lot to do with the 24/7 news cycle. It's just constantly out there. And it will wear you down. It will wear you down physically, it will wear you down mentally," said Congressman Steven Palazzo.

WLOX News caught up with the 4th District Congressman at the Mississippi Preparedness Summit in Biloxi. He faces such tragedy in our unpredictable world, with prayer and by spending time with his family.

"And something unfortunate can happen at any minute.  So love and embrace the ones that you care about, every opportunity that you get," he said.

Exposure to tragedies in the news has increased dramatically over the years. Just a few decades ago, there were just three nightly newscasts with the occasional special report. Nowadays, it's a 24/7 news cycle with multiple news channels.  And let's not forget about smart phones and mobile devices which also deliver the news.

Sumrall says sometimes you just need to escape all this with a quiet walk.

"Let's try to look at some of the bright things that are going on in the world. And step away from that for a minute," he said.

He also encourages parents to be aware of their children watching the coverage this week and says younger children may not fully understand what's happening.

That's why parents should monitor their exposure and give age-appropriate explanations about what's happening.

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