How to support those who witness tragic events
FARGO, ND (Valley News Live) – A 21-year-old woman is recovering in hospital this evening after police say she jumped off the Fargo pedestrian bridge into oncoming traffic on I-94 Thursday morning.
It happened just before 8.30am, and authorities say two cars crashed trying to avoid hitting the woman. No injuries were reported.
Several witnesses spoke about the tragic situation in 911 dispatchers, prompting our team to speak with local mental health experts about how you should help and speak with those watching incidents like this unfold in front them.
“An event like the one that happened is not something people would normally expect to happen in their daily lives. So I think recognizing that there are going to be troubling thoughts, you may have trouble eating or sleeping, your daily activities may change for a few days,” said Jeana Scheffler, therapist at Prairie St. John’s. . “Just recognize that there’s no right or wrong way to answer this.”
Scheffler says ruminating on thoughts about what you’ve witnessed is normal, it’s important to try to break them down.
“Watch funny videos on YouTube, go for a walk, do something you enjoy so you don’t get stuck thinking about that specific event all day,” she said.
According to Scheffler, the most important thing you should do is tell your loved ones about what you saw and how you feel. And she urges those loved ones not to be afraid to reach out and ask how you can help, and to make a conscious effort to listen.
“I think we always think, ‘I don’t want to bother them with this question.’ Or “maybe they don’t think about it. I don’t want to be the only one talking about it”, but I think whenever someone experiences something like that, that’s all he’ll think,” Scheffler said.
Scheffler says with tragic events like this, she knows some will feel like they don’t deserve to be happy after witnessing something so dark, but she says it’s important not to let this feeling dominate your life.
“Understand that with tragedies we experience a lot of tears and sadness, but it’s also okay to let the joy and laughter slip by,” she said.
Experts also say it’s important to maintain a routine and normalcy as best you can, but urge you to seek help immediately if you feel like your dark thoughts and feelings aren’t going away.
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