Losing a loved one can be a painful and difficult period in a person’s life. When that person is lost in a mass shooting or other traumatic event, the persistent stress known as survivor’s guilt can be so profound, it actually can lead to suicide, says a world-renowned trauma expert from NYU Langone’s Department of Psychiatry.
Arieh Y. Shalev, MD, the Barbara Wilson Professor of Psychiatry and a specialist in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), explains in an interview with the New York Post how this particular form of PTSD can go unchecked by clinicians. “PTSD is often associated with anxiety, but not guilt,” Dr. Shalev says. “It doesn’t manifest itself in quantifiable measures, like trouble sleeping. But it is a very real problem.”
Survivor’s guilt has recently been a topic of discussion following the suicides of a parent whose child died in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and two survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Florida.
Dr. Shalev says that even though it is difficult to absolve oneself of survivor’s guilt, opening lines of communication is an important first step, such as simply asking someone who has suffered a loss if they are feeling guilty. “Just ask,” he emphasizes.
Read more from the New York Post.