Taliaferro workers explain the struggles of tragedy

The deaths of Hunter Vaughn, Alyssa Wiles, Chris Lane, Jose Miranda, Katherine, Tinker and John Hruby and others over the last two years have resonated and stunned the community of Duncan. Employees from Taliaferro Mental Health Center in Lawton visited Duncan Regional Hospital to do a presentation to discuss how to deal with the effects of such events.

In the slideshow, one of the main ideas was that trauma never goes away, and grief is common. People who experience it go through seven steps, those being pain, guilt, anger, bargaining, depression, reflection and loneliness. Some people are never really able to get past the seventh step of grief. However, trauma is always present in minor or major ways.

“Trauma makes you look differently at the world around you,” Quentin Templer, Resource Coordinator BS CM II from Taliaferro, said. “Trauma on a biological level is no different than a lion chasing you.”

The way the body responds in life-threatening situations is the same as the effects of trauma. The increase of adrenaline and blood pressure can make it nearly indistinguishable.

Kayla Fisher, a therapist at Taliaferro LMSW U/S, says the best way for some to deal with emotional problems is to remember the deceased and continue the things one used to do with that person. Crying is okay.

“[For instance], if you and Katherine went to Braum’s every Friday night, you should still go,” Fisher said. “You can even make a memory box.”

A memory box is a box full of pictures of that person, or even some notes the person wrote. It could also be of something the person left at the friend’s house. The #KatherineStrong was used immediately after her death and was a way for teens to make memories of her. This was something like the memory box according to Fisher.

She also said that overcoming emotions is difficult and one can’t flip a switch and be fine.

“It slowly turns into a different way of life,” she said. “You can have those days where you have to adjust to those new ways of life.”

In the presentation given, a reason why teenagers are having trouble dealing with the situation is their brains are not fully developed, and often times run to drugs and alcohol to numb the pain.

Paula Belcher, senior counselor at the high school, attended the event and said she has additional information. She is going to add it to other resources to help students deal with depression and other problems.

“We offer [students] to come in for individual or group counseling,” Belcher said. “They can talk to the counselors that we have access to.”

Belcher said it is important students talk to the right people, because memories can cause an emotional issue at school.

“There might be events that trigger the memories and the adults need to speak out on what they [the students] might need,” she said.

Despite the incident, Belcher says students are a little bit on edge but are kinder to each other. Toya Compton, Triage Specialist II MS, says judging whether people need help or not is a different problem by itself.

“People might not notice,” Compton said. “They may not be aware what to look for in mental illness.”

Because of the recent outbreak of tragedy, knowing if people are in their right mind is priority to possibly prevent any more calamity.