Distress Centre of Ottawa stresses victims talk about the tragedy

Decapitated bodies.

Limbs strewn like toys in a yard.

Fear of loved ones — not responding to their cell phones or social media feeds — being killed or seriously injured.

Reaction to Wednesday’s horrific crash between an OC Transpo bus and VIA train, killing six and sending dozens to hospital, can range from numbness to apathy to rage.

The Distress Centre of Ottawa averages 100 calls daily and is noting a “pretty significant” increase in calls since Wednesday’s accident, said community relations coordinator Leslie Scott.

“Holding anything in like this, it can be very damaging to one’s mental health,” said Scott.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) affects one in 10 people, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association.

Anger will likely be expressed by some.

“How could this happen? What went wrong? Whose fault is this,” said Noi Quao, manager of traumatic event support services at consulting firm Morneau Shepell.

“There can also be a large amount of sadness thinking about those families.”

Others may be unsure how to feel.

“They may have been deciding to take this bus and then didn’t, for whatever reason, so there may be, for some, a feeling of relief but then feeling bad for feeling relief,” said Quao.

Darryl Praill of Manotick received backlash in the Twitterverse after posting: “For some reason I chose not to get on the bus that was just hit by the train in #ottawa. Talk about #fate!!! Thank you Lord.”

Praill wound up defending his post all day, however, remains grateful his “stupid, selfish reason” of wanting personal space saved his life.

“As I was getting on, the bus simply looked really full,” said Praill, adding he always sits at the front.

Using a smartphone app, he saw another bus was seconds away.

A few others waited but most riders jammed in.

Moments later, “I remember having a conversation with myself: Those are real people. I know they’re dead,” said Praill.

Then it sunk in.

“It was just a torrent of emotions,” he said, noting he feels relieved, not guilty.

Quao recommends finding “good support,” whether it’s through professional counseling via an employee assistance program or turning to family and friends.

Praill was using Twitter to stay distracted and engaged.

“I wasn’t focused on the carnage around me,” he said.

The distress centre runs 24/7 and help can be found at 613-238-3311.

kelly.roche@sunmedia.ca

Twitter: @ottawasunkroche

http://www.ottawasun.com/2013/09/19/distress-centre-of-ottawa-stresses-victims-talk-about-the-tragedy

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