Personal Safety – A Guide for Caring Adults

October 31, 2001

Los Angeles: Following the September 11, 2001 tragedy, the Los Angeles Police Department embarked on a course of action, requiring us to provide the public with personal safety tips. Additionally, the Department is committed to providing the public with information on ways to cope with [and adapt to] situations that persons are likely to encounter following the September 11th attack on our nation.
The following information is provided by the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health to assist the public with understanding the emotional reactions to such incidents. This is the first in a two-part series on this topic.
Following a critical incident that involves serious acts of violence, the emotional response from individuals will vary.

Sense of Loss

Persons traumatized by critical incidents often experience a pervasive sense of loss. These reactions are common and may include some of the following:

Loss of feeling safe
Loss of identity/future
Loss of feeling of control over one’s life
Loss of trust in others
Loss of hope
Loss of personal power
Loss of friends; and
Loss of home/belongings.

Common Reactions to Unexpected Acts of Violence

Individuals and communities may experience a range of intense emotions, feelings, thoughts and reactions to unexpected violence.
The following psychological impacts of an unexpected and violent act may include the following thoughts and emotions:

Fear of the unknown
Survivor Guilt
Excessive Worry
A state of tension; and
Re-activation of prior negative memories.

Physical or Behavioral Reaction

When unexpected acts of violence occur, they disrupt our daily routine and sense of equilibrium. Physical or behavioral reactions may include:

Appetite disturbance
Sleep disturbance
Free-floating or generalized anxiety
Panic attacks
Feelings of gloom or despair
Exaggerated response to stimuli
Stomach ailments; and
Decrease in performance levels.

Normal Reactions

The thoughts, reactions and feelings described above are considered normal reactions to abnormal events. It is important to reassure individuals experiencing a range of unexpected feelings or symptoms that these are typical manifestations in reaction to a stressful incident of unmatched proportion. Finally, reactions to abnormal events may surface immediately or in many cases, days or weeks after the incident. This is normal.

This release was prepared by Officer Victoria Diaz, Media Relations Section, 213-485-3586.