The psychological impact of the Delphi developments: ‘Very unsettling and very difficult to process’

DELPHI, Ind. - New developments released on Monday not only remind us of the grief, but the trauma in the Delphi case. During each press conference, people find themselves reliving the tragedy that happened two years ago.

This crime continues to have a psychological impact on the small town of Delphi.

Every time Abby and Libby’s picture pops up on your Facebook timeline, or every time the suspects image is shown on a flyer outside a business window, these are considered trauma triggers, and everyone handles them differently.

Neighbors who live in Delphi say their heart jumped, hearing the new developments.

“Wherever you are, we’re going to get you. We’re going to find you,” one man said.

Each piece of additional information can be an additional sense of trauma.

“We believe you are hiding in plain sight,” said Indiana State Police Superintendent Doug Carter.

Heather Servaty-Seib is a Professor of Counseling Psychology at Purdue University. She says grief is multi-dimensional.

“Back to the moment that the news was initially announced,” said Servaty-Seib, “It’s emotional, it’s cognitive, it’s physical, it’s social, it’s spiritual. It’s all of those aspects and it’s also very unique to each person.”

New sketch of Delphi suspect

The new sketch, audio and video released could be difficult to process.

“Grief in general moves in waves,” said Servaty-Seib, “When you have a death that’s covered in the media, those waves are sort of thrust upon you every time the story is addressed or covered in the media again.”

“Some may experience it in a way where they do have emotions and they do want to talk about it with others in their life,” said Servaty-Seib, “Some may experience it in a way where they want to do something very physical, or they want to do something to make a difference and to help someone else.”

Servaty-Seib says, for those dealing with PTSD, the images could bring on nightmares or flashbacks.  The key is to acknowledge how to cope and recognize that justice for Abby and Libby is what’s important.

“Really missing these two young girls and all they did to contribute to the community,” said Servaty-Seib.

There are several ways to reach out for PTSD or grief counseling.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, affiliated with Mental Health America can be reached at 800-273-TALK (8255). People are available to talk any time of day or night and is a trained PTSD and grief helpline.

The grief recovery helpline also offers counseling, referrals, support and publications. That number is 800-445-4808.

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