I remember having intervened in various circumstances of traffic accidents. An attempt to cross the road led to the death of the man who was going with his wife to wait for the bus; A moment of drowsiness rushed that vehicle to the very edge of the river. Dead, wounded, near and far survivors come together in a daily event: traffic accidents. It is one of the areas where the aid relationship takes the name of “crisis intervention”.
Crisis intervention is a process of help in order to accompany a person or a group to endure a traumatic event so that the probability of weakening its effects decreases and the probability of growth due to it increases.
It is obvious that the loss of well-being of the person in the face of traumatic and critical events is significant. There are many causes of crisis in this regard: from natural catastrophes, warfare, homicide, personal ruin (of a different nature), aggression or abuse and, of course, the losses caused by accidents, among which, those of traffic.
Losing a loved one or living the consequences (if they are serious) of limitations or disabilities caused by traffic accidents, causes crisis situations for different people: some of the survivors involved and loved ones. The intensity and vital impact of such a situation, its meaning, the variable of surprise, etc., make the intensity of the impact and emotional disturbance strong.
Normally people welcome the help that the professionals who meet around the accident can give them. They welcome it because the set of needs is great and the feeling of not being able to solve them all, too. Perhaps the presence of white coats, immediate statements in the media, etc., may contribute to the rejection.
In these situations, it is not only the professionals who intervene, but also people who casually pass by and offer their help, as well as the neighbors or acquaintances who, upon learning, try to display their solidarity. It would be useful in these cases, as in many others, to ignore the handy phrases such as “it is destiny”, “you still have other children”, “life goes on”, “soon everything will have been a dream”, “with him time everything passes “and so many others that – if listened to – are more hurtful arrows than possible consolation for the stunned person.
There are not so many recipes or formulas, other than “what not to do or say”. Or better, if there were any, it is above all to try to detect the specific needs of victims and those close to them and favor their expression, as well as the free expression of feelings.
Among the values present in crisis intervention are proximity, immediacy, hope, simplicity … Indeed, the possibility of being close to people and they are close to their victims is a resource. A resource to listen to them, to embrace them, to sustain in the fainting, to link with other possible resources (doctors, etc.), to minimize major trauma.
Immediate intervention may have a preventive valence of certain symptoms or irreversible behaviors (self-harm, lack of self-care, decisions made very impulsively, or others).
Inspiring hope in these situations translates into a way of accompanying facing the situation realistically and normalizing the reactions. Instill confidence that the necessary resources are made available and that the interest to meet specific needs is real and effective, it is a surname of hope.
If something is important in these emotionally dense situations, it is simplicity. Any complex intervention is not listened to, it is not understood, it generates emotional numbness in those affected. The person who accompanies will often feel that they “do nothing”, although knowing how to be also includes this art of staying available, facilitating …
Those affected usually need to express feelings, to contact other people, to inform, to receive information, to order ideas and steps, to structure the experience and to minimally control the situation. It is an opportunity to be a mediator at the rhythm of each person.
Pornography of death
Crisis intervention is not without difficulties. In relation to accidents that cause the death of one or more people, some specific aspects are present.
It has been Geoffrey Gorer, who has written a book with the suggestive title of The pornography of death. In it he shows that: “death replaced sex as the main forbidden subject, something like” you don’t talk about that. ” It is in this sense that death became ‘pornographic’ and on the one hand it becomes taboo and on the other it is exonerated, although it seems paradoxical.