Being exposed to videos of police killings can lead to symptoms of PTSD : NPR

People attend a candlelight vigil on Thursday in memory of Tire Nichols at Tobey Skate Park in Memphis, Tenn.

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People attend a candlelight vigil on Thursday in memory of Tire Nichols at Tobey Skate Park in Memphis, Tenn.

Scott Olson/Getty photo

Video of the moments leading up to the death of Tire Nichols, which five Memphis police officers was charged, expected released the following Friday.

Monnica Williams, a clinical psychologist and expert in racial trauma, says videos featuring violence and death cause extreme stress and should be limited.

Williams told NPR: “Seeing things like this happen to others in your community broadly can have some hurtful effects, especially if you are a member of a stigmatized minorities often face trauma like this.”

Nichols, one 29 year old black manwas brutally beaten after being pulled over on suspicion of reckless driving on January 7. He died in hospital three days later.

Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis said the recordings, which include body cameras, dash cams and other surveillance footage, will be made public sometime after 7 p.m. ET Friday. But she warned that the incident was “disgusting, reckless and inhumane.”

Here are some helpful reminders on how to cope.

Remember, you don’t have to watch the video to stay up to date on the incident

Williams’ main advice is not to watch the footage if you can.

“This is really the message I want people to have: Don’t watch them,” she said. “If you want to see it, you should ask yourself, why would I want to see this?”

She understands that some people may be obligated to watch the video, depending on their job or connection to the case, but for the vast majority of people, violent videos tend to do more harm than good. rather than beneficial.

Williams adds that there are other ways to stay informed about the case without watching videos or graphics, which tend to have a stronger impact on the brain than just reading an article about it.

“These videos aren’t good for your mental health, and they don’t make us a better society,” Williams said.

Before the footage is released, check it out for yourself

In anticipation of the video and the descriptions surrounding it, Williams urges people to pause to assess how much information they can process.

“Anxiety, stress or nervousness? These can be good signs that you want to calm down and may not need to watch,” she says.

Williams also recommends watching news and content in moderation depending on how they feel.

“People can wait until they feel ready. They don’t have to do it now,” she said. “Or they may decide that they only want a small amount of information about what happened.”

Signs of stress and trauma may appear immediately or after several weeks

Williams said people can experience forms of post-traumatic stress disorder when watching distressing videos. Those symptoms include having trouble sleeping, having images over and over in your mind, or feeling restless, restless, or moody.

Sometimes, those symptoms don’t appear until much later.

Williams points to a 2018 study in Fingertips on police homicides and their pervasive impact on the mental health of black Americans. Research shows that Blacks continue to be affected by a deadly encounter between a police officer and an unarmed Black man months after first hearing about it.

The feeling of numbness can also be a sign of injury, Williams adds, and it should be taken as seriously as other symptoms.

Lean on people you can trust and who can sympathize with how you feel

One of the best ways to deal with this type of trauma is to talk to other people.

“Talk to people who are sick and who will become a source of support and comfort,” says Williams.

It’s important, she adds, to “rebalance your sense of balance” by taking time out of the office, going for a walk or driving, and taking time away from the news and social media cycle. .


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