Monday, September 24, 2001

Remember 9-11-01

Attack’s economic
aftershocks add to
anxiety in isles

Crisis groups fear the
stress layoffs will bring

Warning signs, assistance

By Helen Altonn

Island residents are expected to feel increased stress as they try to deal with economic problems on top of the shocking World Trade Center and Pentagon terrorist attacks.

"I think it's just going to get worse within a few days," said Leslye Sneider, development director of Helping Hands Hawaii, referring to airline layoffs.

"Waikiki already is deserted," she said. "It's a fast impact and it's going to mushroom severely."

Helping Hands has a variety of human services and behavioral health programs, including the Community Clearinghouse, shelters and mobile teams that go out to people in severe crisis.

"I think agencies like this are going to be really impacted from the economic fallout," Sneider said.

Jane Maxwell, who heads Helping Hands' crisis program, said calls have been steady but not necessarily related to the recent events.

It is too soon to see any trends, she said, "plus there have been so many other numbers set up specifically for distress calls about the World Trade Center."

Greg Farstrup, Mental Health Association in Hawaii executive director, said it has received calls from people with mental health problems.

"They just wanted to talk, and like all of us, they were angry about what happened."

He said he thinks people still are in shock over the Sept. 11 devastation and deaths, and he is concerned about post-traumatic stress syndrome as they try to readjust.

"Many times, an incident like this will trigger people's memories of past traumas they've been through. We've had some of that."

More calls are expected when people start losing jobs or their work hours are reduced, Farstrup said. "They are running out of solutions. They don't know what to do."

The association offers numerous referrals and sources, he said. It also tries to help people recognize their own coping skills and remember what they have done before to get through traumatic times, he said.

"Part of it is not staying in front of the TV all the time," he said, advising people to remain active.

Distressed people tend to be lethargic, to lie around and not do the things they enjoy, he said. "You have feelings something's going to happen; you're not sure what."

This is intensified by watching grim TV reports from the attack scenes, he said.


Signs of depression

The National Depressive and Manic-Depressive Association (800-826-3632) lists these signs of depression:

>> Prolonged sadness or unexplained crying spells.
>> Significant changes in appetite and sleep patterns.
>> Irritability, anger, worry, agitation or anxiety.
>> Pessimism or indifference.
>> Loss of energy or persistent lethargy.
>> Unexplained aches and pains.
>> Feelings of guilt, worthlessness or hopelessness.
>> Inability to concentrate.
>> Social withdrawal.
>> Excessive consumption of alcohol or use of chemical substances.
>> Recurring thoughts of suicide or death.


Among agencies offering counseling and other assistance are:

>> Helping Hands of Hawaii Crisis Line: 521-4555.
>> Mental Health Association: 521-1846.
>> American Red Cross: 734-2101.
>> The Queen's Medical Center: 547-4410.

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