Balm for accident survivors

Ranchi outfit offers counselling for families of accident victims

By Antara Bose in Jamshedpur
  • Published 5.01.19, 11:21 PM
  • Updated 5.01.19, 11:21 PM
  • 3 mins read
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The car that met with the accident on Marine Drive in Kadma, Jamshedpur, on Saturday. Picture by Anmesh Sengupta

A Ranchi-based social outfit that has been working on road safety for the past four years has decided to launch a counselling centre for accident survivors and their families to help them deal with mental stress that usually follow such traumas.

Rise Up, that is setting up the centre at a play school run by it in Ranchi, decided to implement the idea after its founder came face-to-face with a teenaged accident victim and saw first-hand what she went through after seeing her father die.

Road accidents may not only lead to death or serious physical injury, but they also put survivors at an increased risk of a wide range of psychiatric disorders, particularly acute stress disorder, explained Rise Up founder Rishab Anand.

“Both father and daughter were in the auto when the incident happened,” he said about Arpita who lost her auto driver father Ajit Kumar Sinha when a dumper collided with their auto at Harmu on December 4, 2018 while he was taking her to college.

“While her father was killed on the spot, Arpita was knocked unconscious and had to be rushed to hospital. The girl was repeatedly mumbling about her father even when she was unconscious. These situations are terrible for survivors and their families. The incident prompted us to launch the centre,” he explained.

Psychiatrists agree that road accident survivors were at a high risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse or stress-related mental health conditions if they did not receive counselling. Post-traumatic stress disorder might also involve issues such as anxiety, short-temper and difficulty in sleeping. In fact, these are some of the challenges that accident victims could face for many years.

The centre will initially function from CarToon play school in Nagratoli on second Sundays of every month. The cradle, also run by the outfit, is known for promoting the importance of road safety among children.

With a team of 13 comprising a few psychologists, the outfit will also handle issues of road rage in which pedestrians and motorists get into ugly fights which ultimately lead to law and order problems.

Experts said early assessment of trauma-related psychological responses are important because acute trauma responses in early post-traumatic periods are fairly reliable predictors of long-term mental health problems.

According to the ministry of road transport and highways, Jharkhand witnessed 3,256 fatalities in 5,198 road accidents in 2017. The number of mishap deaths since 2014 has been on the rise. While 2,628 lives were lost in 2014, the number shot up to 2,893 in the next year and increased further to 3,027 in 2016. The number of mishaps in these four years hovered between 4,900 and 5,200.

Besides counselling, the Rise Up team has also decided to bridge the gap between families of accident victims and insurance companies because a huge amount of money lies unclaimed due to various reasons.

“We have found that Rs 15,167 crore of insurance claims from 23 companies remain unclaimed. Most of the time, relatives aren’t aware or do not know where to go and what to do to claim the amount. We will also try to bridge this gap,” Anand said.

“People need counselling in cases of road mishaps and natural disasters. An accident survivor may come across many emotions. There can be guilt if she/he is a part of the accident or go through post-traumatic disorders. In any case, counselling helps people recover,” said Sanjay Agarwal, head of psychiatry department, Tata Main Hospital.

Marine Drive turns danger zone

Two youths escaped with minor injuries when the car they were riding flipped on its side after hitting a lamp post on Marine Drive in Kadma in the small hours of Saturday, barely 48 hours after two pedestrians were killed by a speeding car.

Drunk driving is apparently the culprit in both the cases.

Police have seized the car and recovered empty liquor bottles from it. There were bloodstains on the window panes and front seats, indicating injury to the occupants.

“We are on the lookout for the occupants of the car because we assume that they were driving under the influence of liquor,” Kadma OC J.K. Thakur said based on the statements of eyewitnesses.

Pappu Karmakar, a resident of Satighat slum along Marine Drive, said he heard a loud noise around 2am.

“I came out of my house and saw a car lying on its side. Local residents brought out two youths who were drunk and bleeding from their mouths. After resting for a while, the duo walked away towards Kadma,” Karmakar said.

By Our Correspondent