Manchester Arena, Manchester, 22nd May 2017. 22 victims, excluding the suicide bomber, ISIS terrorist Salman Ramadan Abedi, himself not much older than many of the youngsters he innocently slaughtered when he blew himself up, taking children and adults with him and leaving many more critically injured, some with life changing injuries.
The injuries suffered by those who’d been to enjoy an Ariana Grande concert will remain forever. We’re not talking about the more obvious physical ones, but the psychological damage, that which we can’t see.
For anyone who’s suffered/is suffering from PTSD, they will be aware of the monumental issues it creates. And it’s not just those directly affected, but also those who’ve witnessed horrific events, even from a distance.
Think back to 9/11 and the sheer horror that we all watched unfold on our tv screens, as terrorists slammed plane after plane into the ground and buildings. The devastating images of people jumping from the twin towers in a futile and deadly attempt to escape the smoke and flames.
We don’t need to be reminded of the grotesque, inhuman horrors of the day. Some events are so catastrophic that snapshots remain in our minds forever. And even though we’re watching from afar, we are experiencing the moment. We are affected. Removed by distance but engaged through trauma. Try as we might, our minds cannot escape atrocities we’ve seen, with images re-visiting us over and over again, causing distress, anxiety and depression.
The truth is that PTSD affects far more of us than perhaps we realise. For self help reading, Anxiety UK recommend Overcoming Traumatic Stress and whilst we haven’t read it, Anxiety UK are unlikely to recommend anything which doesn’t help.
So what for the victims of the Manchester bombing in the future? How do they cope with the life changing injuries, rehabilitation, the loss of loved ones, the guilt that they survived when others didn’t, the flashbacks, the memories, the nightmares that will inevitably occur not just during the sleeping hours, but the waking ones too? For those who were there but escaped injury, all those who observed the devastation, destruction and death – there will be repercussions and it is vital that they all have access to relevant assistance and support to help them move forward. They must be allowed to discuss their feelings, their experiences freely. Equally, people must be prepared to listen. For as long as it takes.
There are clear links between PTSD and suicide as highlighted in a recent Daily Mirror article . Although this insightful and informative article focuses on PTSD and suicide in relation to our Armed Services personnel, the aftermath and effects of trauma can be transferred and applied to any traumatic episode.
The victims of Manchester have a challenging road ahead of them. One would hope that the younger victims particularly have time in which the abrasiveness of their experience may soften, even ease a little, with the right support. The kind of support that hasn’t always been available as a victim of trauma recently explained to me:
“I was just 22 when I was the victim of an assault which left me badly injured. It never occurred to me that forty years on, I’d still be having flashbacks and re-living the event as if it was yesterday. I never had any support or therapy, I was simply expected to move on. The term PTSD was never applied to me and wasn’t something I’d heard of. So I’ve never discussed it, keeping the horror and the emotions locked deep inside, telling myself not to be so stupid and to get over it. The truth is, I can run, but I can’t hide. For anyone suffering from PTSD, I urge them, please, seek help and support. It’s imperative you speak to someone who will listen and give you the time and guidance you need. I honestly believe my suffering would have been significantly reduced if I’d had access to the kind of support and understanding that’s now available “
SOS Silence of Suicide sends its love and support to all victims of traumatic atrocities.
“It’s time to stop the silence”