WINNSBORO — The nation grieved Monday as explosions rocked the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Known worldwide as a symbol for perseverance, community and sport, this year the race had over 130 runners from the Palmetto State, including one from Ridgeway and several from Blythewood.
That means people in Fairfield County might have a friend or family member who experienced terrorism firsthand and they might be unsure how to help their loved one deal with the aftermath.
Margarite McCain, treatment director at Fairfield County Behavioral Health, advises that people be open and listen to any concerns a friend or family member might have.
McCain offered the following tips:
— The big thing is that this is an ongoing investigation and we don’t want people to be fearful of living.
— Avoid making comments like, “things will get better” or “you shouldn’t feel that way.”
— Instead try to be present for the individual in the place where they are and be accepting and supportive. Paraphrasing comments someone makes to you can be helpful as can reminding them how they persevered to run the race and survive a tragedy.
— As a friend or family member, be sure to observe the individual affected and look for changes to patterns of behavior and living. Examples include withdrawing socially, giving up running, poor appetite and/or trouble sleeping. Those warning signs could mean the person would benefit from treatment intervention.
“Keep in mind that children can be affected by tragedy, too,” she said.
That especially is true in this terrorist attack since an 8-year-old boy was killed and that death received heavy media attention.
While many parents limit their children’s exposure to television news, McCain said it is important to give young people a chance to express how they feel following the attacks.
“Parents need to reassure their children that they are still safe,” she said. “Mentioning the fast response of law enforcement and EMS also is helpful.”
If parents notice their child is having trouble sleeping or eating, then those might be signs to refer the child to behavioral health services or at least have the child see his or her physician for evaluation.
“Remember that each of us copes differently. It is important to share our feelings in a way that is open and honest but also equally important to accept the way that children and adults cope,” she said.
She said it helps to talk about it when appropriate and that people stick to facts. “If you don’t know the answer to a question it is OK to tell your child you do not know,” she said.
Advocacy 5K continues as planned
With the annual Fairfield Behavioral Health 5K event coming up in the community, some people might feel apprehensive, but the behavioral health staff reminds them that police and EMS will be on hand to ensure the safety of competitors and spectators.
According to Prevention Coordinator Veronica Edmonds, there are 122 people registered to participate this year and Monday at Dollar General in Winnsboro staff will be on hand from 10 a.m. to noon to encourage more participants. Though thoughts might drift to Boston events as runners lace up their shoes, the Fairfield County 5K’s primary focus is on Alcohol Awareness Month.
Prevention Specialist Kennedy Robertson said it is important that the community as a whole be aware of the dangers of alcohol and drugs.
“Young people observe alcohol in the media and have misconceptions about what alcohol can do. It’s influence can lead an otherwise healthy brain to make poor decision after poor decision, so alcohol can do damage to one’s self and their community,” Robertson said.
FCHS Head Football Coach Demetrius Davis will emcee the race again this year and he has a team of 10 athletes walking also.
Kennetra Anthony, an eighth-grader at FMS, will sing the national anthem.
Prior to the race, a torch memorial candle will be lit and a moment of silence held for those who have lost loved ones through alcohol use, abuse or addiction.
For more information about the race call the Prevention Department at 803-635-2335.
Contact Kevin Boozer at 635-4016 ext. 14 or email@example.com and follow him on Twitter at @kevinboozer.