Healing and answers will take time, expert says

MARYSVILLE — The community will need to come together to heal.

That is one of the lessons learned after school shootings across the country, an expert said Friday.

Kids need to be reassured that schools are safe places. Parents, teachers and neighbors need to reach out, to know that there are others who understand.

“I’m so sorry for your loss and pain. Unfortunately, you are not alone. There are communities who have learned to cope and how to heal well,” said Frank Ochberg, a psychiatrist and renowned expert on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

He was an adviser brought in to work with school staff after the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School.

Ochberg offered his condolences Friday, hours after a Marysville Pilchuck High School student opened fire in the cafeteria. The shooter fatally wounded a female student and injured four others. He then killed himself, police said.

Ochberg said it will be natural and important to search for answers.

In the rush for information, however, there will be assumptions, accusations and rumors that for some, including the victims’ families, witnesses and the high school community, will seem like rubbing salt on fresh wounds, Ochberg said.

“Sometimes the voices of reason are lost by the loud voices searching for blame and vindictiveness in the aftermath of tragedy,” Ochberg said.

The psychiatrist also offered this reminder, which could be overlooked: school shootings are rare.

“They’re not necessarily getting worse,” Ochberg said. “Schools are still generally safe.”

Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463, hefley@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @dianahefley

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