The psychological reactions after witnessing a killing in public in a Danish high school

A. Elklit, S. Kurdahl

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review

Abstrakt

BACKGROUND: School killings attract immense media and public attention but psychological studies surrounding these events are rare. OBJECTIVE: To examine the prevalence of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and possible risk factors of PTSD in 320 Danish high school students (mean age 18 years) 7 months after witnessing a young man killing his former girlfriend in front of a large audience. METHOD: The students answered the Harvard Trauma Questionnaire (HTQ), the Crisis Support Scale (CSS), and the Trauma Symptom Checklist (TSC). RESULTS: Prevalence of PTSD 7 months after the incident was 9.5%. Furthermore, 25% had PTSD at a subclinical level. Intimacy with the deceased girl; feeling fear, helplessness, or horror during the killing; lack of expressive ability; feeling let down by others; negative affectivity; and dissociation predicted 78% of the variance of the HTQ total scores. CONCLUSION: It is possible to identify students who are most likely to suffer from PTSD. This knowledge could be used to intervene early on to reduce adversities.
OriginalsprogEngelsk
Artikelnummer19826
TidsskriftEuropean Journal of Psychotraumatology
Vol/bind4
ISSN2000-8198
DOI
StatusUdgivet - 2013

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