Dawson revisited: scientists present groundbreaking study on psychological impact of school shooting

    NEW YORK, NY, June 29 /CNW Telbec/ - Less than two percent of the
community were diagnosed with post-traumatic stress, and seven percent report
post-traumatic stress symptoms, as a result of the shooting at Dawson College
on September 13, 2006. However, over 80 percent of those who received care
reported that they were satisfied with the services provided, according to a
new study by researchers from the Fernand-Seguin Research Centre of Louis-H.
Lafontaine Hospital and the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC), in
Montreal, Canada. The preliminary findings of this first-of-its-kind study
will be presented at the 31st International Congress on Law and Mental Health
in New York on Monday June 30, 2009.
    Since the 1999 Columbine tragedy, there have been 60 school shootings -
double the rate seen in the previous decade," says Dr. Warren Steiner, head of
the McGill University Health Centre's Department of Psychiatry and one of the
key figures involved in implementing the emergency psychological intervention
plan following the Dawson College shooting. "These school shootings have
resulted in 181 deaths," he said.
    "Despite the frequency of these incidents, there are very few empirical
studies on their psychological effects and no studies have evaluated the
effectiveness of psychological interventions," says Dr. Steiner. "It is
crucial that we learn from these experiences to better help those affected by
such tragedies."
    The study, conducted with 949 members of the Dawson community, including
students, faculty and staff, found that some students who needed psychological
assistance were reluctant to seek help due to the fear of being stigmatized by
friends and loved ones.
    The research team also found that among male support staff, many were
equally averse to seeking professional help. "People were disinclined to seek
help because of prejudices related to mental illness, fear of showing weakness
or appearing vulnerable to one's peers or supervisor and the false perception
that time would solve everything," says Alain Lesage, a researcher at the
Fernand-Seguin Research Centre of Louis-H. Lafontaine Hospital and a professor
of psychiatry at the Université de Montréal.
    The researchers also discovered that certain groups, such as cafeteria
staff (who are not Dawson College staff), college support staff, some of whom
witnessed the shooting, and those who were hospitalized, were overlooked, and
the repercussions of their psychological damage were underestimated. In
addition, some professors felt powerless and incapable of helping students.

    On the Web:

    About the Fernand-Seguin Research of Louis-H. Lafontaine Hospital:
    About the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC): www.muhc.ca
    About the Univeristé de Montréal: www.umontreal.ca/english/index.htm

    - When: Tuesday, June 30, 2009
    - What: 31st International Congress on Law and Mental Health
    - Where: New York University School of Law, Vanderbilt Hall, 40
             Washington Square. South
    - Who: For embargoed interviews with researchers, or to meet the
           scientists directly in New York, please contact Catherine Dion,
           communications advisor, Louis-H. Lafontaine Hospital-Fernand-
           Seguin Research Centre, at 514-235-4036.

For further information:

For further information: Catherine Dion, Communications Advisor - Media
Relations, Louis-H. Lafontaine Hospital-Fernand-Seguin Research Centre, (514)
251-4000, ext. 2986, Cell phone: (514) 235-4036,
catherine.dion.hlhl@ssss.gouv.qc.ca; Ian Popple, Communications Coordinator,
MUHC Public Relations and Communications, (514) 843-1560,

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Institut universitaire en santé mentale de Montréal

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McGill University Health Centre

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