Psychologist discusses teens coping withtraumatic stress

From the Pine Belt to across the nation, tragedy strikes in the most unexpected ways. For adolescents, it's a time of shock, grief and unexplainable pain.

In recent days the Pine Belt has experienced the unthinkable. A Forrest County Agricultural High School graduate, 18-year-old Savannah Gibson, was killed in a car crash just hours after walking across the stage for graduation. In Jasper County, 18-year-old Addie May's life was taken after she was shot to death. The Laurel High School senior was supposed to graduate Tuesday.

Dr. Mallory Malkin, a psychologist at Pine Grove Behavioral Health and Addiction Services, said teenagers and children can experience a number of expressions related to grief.

"Irritability, sadness, anger, anxiety, worry, and fears popping up if it's a younger child," Malkin said. "They might seem very cold or numbed by the situation, and sometimes that is difficult for people to handle. That's just the body and brain's way of responding."

It's important these behaviors are not overlooked.

"There is no right or wrong way to react to something so unexpected, so tragic," Malkin said. "Everyone reacts in their own way. Encourage them to talk about it, express themselves in a certain way and also have parents, peers and teachers kind of be on the lookout for any abnormal or  atypical behavior for those kids."

There are resources for children in these types of situations and it's critical they receive the help they need.

If you know an adolescent who may need coping resources, Pine Grove Behavioral Health and Addiction Services does have treatment options available.

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