In the current age of technology, we often find ourselves flooded by stories of violence and tragedy. Social media has enabled violent stories and graphic images to be watched by the public in unedited horrific detail.

Last week, the video showing George Floyd being pinned to the ground, with the police officer’s knees pressed against his neck as he begs for his life has been shared countless times. It has gone viral on social media, and has sparked outrage all over the country.

If the short footage upsets you deeply, then you are not alone. For many of us, the video is difficult to watch.

Watching distressing videos can cause trauma

Mental health experts agree that just watching a disturbing video can have profound effect on one’s mental health.

The cumulative effect of this and past examples of violence and discrimination against black people is traumatic and can deeply impact our collective mental health, particularly to the black community.

You don’t need to be personally involved to be affected. One study suggests that frequent exposure to traumatic footages and videos is emotionally distressing. In some cases, it can even trigger mental health conditions and impact overall health.

Watching someone die can have real and lasting psychological effects. We are all going experiencing stress and anxiety due to COVID-19, and now people are going through the added trauma of the death of George Floyd. Beyond the pain and anger of killing of another person, just knowing that the event occurred can strike fear and anxiety in viewers.

Final thoughts

Although no one is invulnerable from experiencing these negative mental health effects, some people are more vulnerable to them than others.

If you notice symptoms of traumatic stress surfacing, it is best to take some time off from watching the news. Turning off or avoiding the news does not mean you don’t care or have empathy for victims. It’s not only okay, but healthy to take a brake.