Coast Learns To Cope With Tragedy

A small group of people prayed at a noon service at First United Methodist Church in Pass Christian on Wednesday. Reverend Kurt Appel quoted the scripture and then offered some reassurance about a traumatic incident that has most of us feeling very uncertain.

"Nothing can separate us from the love of God through Jesus Christ," he said.

Mental health experts say coming together with friends and family and talking about experiences and fears is exactly what we should all be doing right now. They say it is especially important to talk with children.

"Their take on what's going on may not be exactly right," said Susan Richards, executive director of the Mental Health Association of Mississippi. "They may hear part of the story and the imagine that they themselves are in great jeopardy, that their families are in great jeopardy."

She also says that parents should monitor what children are watching on television and on the Internet. She says young children should be kept away from the violence while older children should be allowed to watch and then talk about their feelings.

"They may have different questions than you think they do," Richards said. "They may not want to know all about terrorist activity. What they may want to know is that the planes that are taking off have enough security around to make sure that they're not going to repeat the incident."

For adults with pre-existing mental health conditions, experts say this event can push them over the edge, making them more vulnerable to suicide and drug and alcohol abuse. Mental health experts say they become busy at a time like this helping people with extreme feelings of panic and anxiety... and post traumatic stress disorder.

"The people who should be concerned are those that don't feel," Richards said. "One of the signs of post traumatic stress disorder is an emotional numbing, a separation from the reality of the event, so people who do not feel anything in reference to this event would be those who possibly should talk to someone and seek professional help."

The Mental Health Association of Mississippi held a support group meeting at five this evening for people who are having trouble coping. More meetings are planned for later in the week.

For more information from the Mental Health Association of Mississippi, click here.