Horrific shootings have impact on mental health, too

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wwltv.com

Posted on May 13, 2013 at 8:03 PM

Updated Tuesday, May 14 at 7:58 AM

Meg Farris / Eyewitness News
Email: mfarris@wwltv.com | Twitter: @megfarriswwl

NEW ORLEANS -- Five people are still in the hospital with gunshot wounds. Three of them are in critical condition facing more surgery and several weeks in the hospital.

And Monday, some of the people not physically injured are realizing they are hurt in a different way.

Chikira Barker came to New Orleans to get her Ph.D. in psychology a couple of years ago. Then, the woman who spends time counseling people and families who witness violence, saw it herself.

"Flashes of memories of falling to the ground, you know, I could almost hear the gunshots and feel the bullets to some extent kind of coming by you, and seeing just kind of the chaos and those things. Images have been flashing through my mind," said Chikira Barker, a psychology fellow at LSU Health Sciences Center.

Flashbacks and difficulty concentrating, she says are all normal. And those emotions are what she is feeling after being the middle of the second line shooting and then seeing the surveillance video.

"It was kind of shock this morning when I saw the replay. It was just kind of disbelieve and that kind of sinking feeling that you have," she said.

She says all of the emotions of anger, sadness and any others people are feeling today, are normal. But she says do what she is doing to heal. Talk to others and get support.

"Make sure you don't stay closed up and bottled in and know that this is a community event and things that we really need to depend on the community for in terms of our support," said Barker.

The Jacksonville, Florida native still wants to live and work in New Orleans after she gets her doctorate in December. She says this community has come through hard times together in the past and will do it again.

If you would like more on the violence counseling program at LSU Health Sciences center call: 504-568-8772.

And Gambit and Tipitina's Foundation are planning a fundraiser in the next two weeks for the gunshot victims. One of their contributing journalists Deb Cotton was shot and will be in the hospital for a while.

The details for the event and a bank account for donations are coming soon on the Gambit web page.

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