Hurting or Grieving? Here are three sources of help for members of the St. Thomas community.

In light of the sudden and tragic death of University of St. Thomas sophomore Michael “Carson” Larson last weekend, grieving and hurting members of the St. Thomas community are reminded of the help available through the offices of Campus Ministry and Counseling and Psychological Services.

“We want everyone to know that we are available to lend a listening ear,” said Dr. Jeri Rockett, director of Counseling and Psychological Services, and Father Erich Rutten, the university’s chaplain.

They have daily crisis appointment times to accommodate those who need support during this difficult time. Feel free to contact either office to consult about any questions you might have.

  • Counseling and Psychological Services is located in Room 356, Murray-Herrick Campus Center. The number is (651) 962-6780.
  • Campus Ministry is located in Room 105, Murray-Herrick Campus Center. The number is (651) 962-6561.

Also, cost-free professional consultation is available to St. Thomas staff and faculty through the university’s Employee Assistance Program. The service is staffed with experienced clinicians 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Information about how to access this service can be found on Page 49 of the 2011 Employee Benefit Guide.

Rockett and Rutten offer the following information about typical responses to tragedies, and what kinds of reactions might warrant seeking additional counseling support.

Typical responses:

  • Shock and disbelief; immediately after learning about such a situation, many people may feel numb, or feel like such an event can't quite be real.
  • Speculation about what happened and seeking more information, such as listening to or watching the news, checking the Web for updates, talking to others about what you each know or have heard.
  • Feeling sadness or anger about the tragedy and discussing this with family, friends, or colleagues.
  • Wanting to check in with loved ones, even if they are not close to the situation, or in any immediate danger. It is normal to want to touch base with someone you care about.

In the hours and days following such tragedies, the shock begins to wear off, and more feelings may emerge, such as sadness and anger. It is important to share these feelings with people you trust. For some people, the level of feelings or the kinds of questions that emerge may indicate that additional counseling support would be helpful.

Circumstances or signs that may lead you to seek additional counseling support:

  • Is this event bringing up recollections of previous loss, trauma, or crisis that you or a loved one have faced?
  • Are you experiencing heightened feelings of anxiety, tension, fear for your safety, insomnia, nightmares, concentration problems, irritability, or rage?
  • Are you crying more than usual in response to sadness?
  • Are you increasing your use of alcohol or drugs in order to cope?
  • Are you wondering what to tell your family about this event or how they will react?

If you are experiencing any of these circumstances, or just wish to talk to a personal counselor or pastoral counselor for additional support, you are welcome to contact Campus Ministry, Counseling and Psychological Services or the Employee Assistance Program.