Sat, May 17, 2008 - Page 2 News List

China quake hard on 921 victims, psychiatrists say

By Hsu Hsia-lien  /  STAFF REPORTER

Given the comprehensive media coverage of the calamitous earthquake in China’s Sichuan Province, psychiatrists yesterday recommended that victims of the 921 earthquake in Taiwan avoid watching the scenes of devastation repeatedly played out on TV to avoid suffering post-trauma syndrome.

After the earthquake hit Sichuan on Monday, reports have emerged of victims and rescuers in the Sept. 21, 1999, earthquake in Taiwan — which killed more than 2,000 people — crying and saying they experience great pain whenever they watch or read about news on the fatal quake in China.


Lin Ben-tang (林本堂), a psychiatrist at Taichung Veterans General Hospital, said some quake victims and rescuers who suffered trauma during the quake have not yet fully recovered.

If they watch or read the news of the quake in China, it may even trigger post-trauma syndrome, Lin said.

George Chen (陳喬琪), former president of the Taiwanese Society of Psychiatry, said local media outlets should stop running non-stop reports on the quake in China to minimize the impact on Taiwanese quake victims and rescuers.


Samuel Yang (楊紹民), a psychiatrist in Taichung City, echoed Chen’s view, saying that memories of a disaster are often buried deep in a victim’s mind, and that such news coverage could awaken old memories.

He suggested that quake victims and rescuers who are uncomfortable with such news to seek professional help immediately.

“This is the best time to cure their trauma syndrome once and for all,” Yang said.

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