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How to support those who witness tragic events

How to support those who witness tragic events

FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) – A 21-year-old woman is recovering in the hospital tonight after police say she jumped off the Fargo pedestrian bridge into oncoming traffic on I-94 Thursday morning.

It happened just before 8:30 a.m., and authorities say two cars crashed while trying to avoid hitting the woman. No injuries were reported.

Several witnesses called the tragic situation into 911 dispatchers, which prompted our team to speak with local mental health experts on how you should help and talk with those who watch incidents like this unfold in front of them.

“An event like what took place isn’t something that people would normally expect to happen in their daily lives. So, I think recognizing that there’s going to be some troubling thoughts, you may have trouble eating or sleeping talk, you daily activities may change for a few days,” Jeana Scheffler, a therapist with Prairie St. John’s said. “Just recognize there’s no right or wrong way to respond to this.”

Scheffler says while ruminating thoughts on what you witnessed are normal, it’s important to try to break them up.

“Watching funny videos on YouTube, going for a walk, doing something that you enjoy so that you’re not stuck thinking about this specific event all day,” she said.

The most important thing Scheffler says you should do is to talk to your loved ones about what you saw and how you feel. And she urges those loved ones not to be afraid to reach out and ask how you can help, and to make a conscious effort to listen.

“I think we’re always thinking, ‘I don’t want to bother them with this question.’ Or, ‘maybe they’re not thinking about it. I don’t want to be the one to bring this up,’ but I think any time someone experiences something like this, that’s all they’re going to be thinking about,” Scheffler said.

Scheffler says with tragic events like this, she knows some will feel like they don’t deserve to be happy after witnessing something so dark, but she says it’s important not to let that feeling dominate your life.

“Understand that with tragedies we experience a lot of tears and sadness, but it’s also ok to let joy and laughter come through,” she said.

Experts also say it’s important to maintain a routine and normalcy as best you can, but urge you to reach out for help immediately if you feel like your dark thoughts and feelings aren’t going away.

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