Rona Barrett: Battling the ‘Why Them, Not Me’ Stare

Rona Barrett: Battling the ‘Why Them, Not Me’ Stare

By Rona Barrett | Published on 09.09.2015 9:45 a.m. During World War II, LIFE magazine first published the haunting oil-painting of a battle-weary soldier staring straight back at us with a detached, unfocused, haunted stare. That’s where “the 1,000 yard stare” phrase came from. Then came growing discussions on post-stress, survivor guilt and despondency that survivors suffer in trauma’s aftermath. This came to mind recently when I realized that so many local seniors with whom I’ve been chatting lately are feeling blue or depressed and can’t figure out why. They too wear a pained, detached, saddened expression, but theirs is the “why them and not me stare?” Why was it someone else’s time to go and not theirs? I’ve been feeling helpless to help them. So I looked into the issue further. I found out that research into the biopsychosocial effects of loss by the aged is in its infancy, but survivor’s guilt is emerging as one of the most widespread and mentally and physically debilitating issues for seniors. Don’t we all look at the obituary each morning to see if we know anyone who has passed? And if they are younger than us, don’t we wonder to ourselves “why them now and not us?” Or when some forever-young celebrity we grew up idolizing suddenly succumbs, or when the incomprehensible happens and we lose a close friend, family or a soul mate. All these tragic events manifest feelings of survivor guilt in seniors. First, we feel guilty for staying alive while others die, then we wrestle with toxic self-blame that our loved one’s death was somehow our fault, and then we begin to think about the amount of our own remaining time and the coulda-woulda-shouldas of our own lives....
New Beginnings Counseling Center in Time Magazine: Mental-Health Lessons Emerge from Isla Vista Slayings

New Beginnings Counseling Center in Time Magazine: Mental-Health Lessons Emerge from Isla Vista Slayings

Police missed an opportunity to thwart Elliot Rodger’s plans before he killed six people May 27, 2014 – Kate [email protected]   Jose Cardoso, 50, cries in front of a makeshift memorial for 20-year-old UCSB student Christopher Ross Michaels-Martinez outside a deli in Santa Barbara, Calif., on May 25, 2014Lucy Nicholson—Reuters   When a mad man goes on a killing spree, a few questions immediately bubble to the surface. Who’s to blame? What should we do now? Could this have been prevented? In the case of Elliot Rodger, who police say killed six people and himself in Isla Vista, Calif., on May 23, there are no definitive answers to any of these questions — at least not yet. But what’s clear is that a few weeks earlier, police missed an opportunity to thwart Rodger’s plans. On April 30, deputies from the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department, which has jurisdiction in Isla Vista, visited Rodgers at his home to assess his mental state. They had been indirectly summoned there by Rodger’s mother. Reportedly disturbed by videos her son had posted on YouTube, she called a therapist who had been treating him, who called a mental-health hotline, which contacted the authorities. The deputies interviewed Rodger and determined that he was shy, according to Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown — but polite and did not pose a risk to himself or others. Absent that, they had no legal right to take him into custody. They urged him to call his mother and they left. In a departing manifesto, Rodger wrote of the April 30 encounter: “For a few horrible seconds I thought it was all over. When...

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