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Media and Trauma
2020.SET.24-26, Coimbra


The summer of 2017 will forever remain in the memory of the Portuguese population. Within four months, two large forest fires lead to the death of 116 people and hundreds of injuried. However, even though the traumatic events have left a visible mark on the victims, survivors and professionals working in these scenarios, the intense media coverage of the fires had (and continues to have) a determinant role in the mental health of those involved, and in the community in general.

Our research pointed out that the media coverage has reported beyond the facts, exposing the affected population in a state of vulnerability.

There seems to be a direct influence of the media coverage in the stress reactions at three levels: (1) the revival of trauma in the victims and, subsequently, the greater difficulty of overcoming it; (2) the development of a traumatic symptomatology in the general population; and (3) the traumatization of journalists themselves. The  journalists must take special care regarding the way they share information, respecting the ethical and deontological conduct of their profession, but also as citiziens who are concerned about the consequences, in a mental health level, on those who are exposed to their work. Despite the need to ensure the dissemination of information, a sensitive and effective coverage may prevent the rekindle of traumatic memories, protecting the victims from a risk of (re)traumatization.

That’s why we want to dedicate our celebration of the 10th anniversary both of our Centro de Trauma and EJPT to discuss the relation between Media and Trauma – and we urge all of ESTSS members to join us in this reflection.