Half of MH17 survivors at risk of severe psychiatric problems

A massive 53 percent of the people who lost a relative in the MH17 disaster on July 17th, 2014 are at risk of developing severe psychiatric problems, according to a study done by a group of Dutch mourning experts. One in eight of the survivors already suffered with severe mental health problems a year after the disaster, the Volkskrant reports.

Psychiatric problems among the survivors range from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), severe or very severe depression to complicated grief - a psychological state in which people can not get over the loss of a loved one. A year later they are still trapped in grief with their mental state constantly in a panic.

According to Jos de Keijser, professor on complex mourning at the University of Groningen and leader of this study, the results of this still ongoing study are not unexpected given the seriousness of the disaster. He even finds the fact that 12 percent of the survivors are suffering with severe psychiatric problems "on the low side', he said according to the newspaper. That group was already diagnosed and can receive treatment. He is more concerned about the 53 percent in the danger zone.

Despite these concerns, De Keijser thinks that the results of the study mainly show proof of "so much resilience". "That people were able to already make something of their lives a year after such a traumatic event, I find very good." he said to the newspaper.

About a thousand direct relatives - people who lost a spouse, child or other family member in the disaster - were approached to participate in this study last year. About a fifth agreed. The study was funded by the victim aid foundation Slachtofferhulp, on the condition that mourning experts from different institutions work on it together. In addition to De Keijser, psychology professor Paul Boelen at Utrecht University and Geert Smid of Centrum 45 also worked on the study.

A total of 298 people were killed when flight MH17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine in July 2014.


Related stories