Utøya terror attack survivors still struggle with trauma, new research finds

Utøya - July 22Photo: Tore Meek / NTB

This summer, Norway will mark ten years since the terror attack on Utøya. New research shows that one in three survivors is still struggling with post-traumatic stress symptoms.

“It is a very serious sign that so many people struggle with these problems over time,” research leader Grete Dyb told news bureau NTB.

She leads a research group at the National Knowledge Center on Violence and Traumatic Stress (NKVTS) that has followed Utøya survivors and relatives in four rounds since 2011. The findings from the Utøya study will be presented on Monday.

The study shows that more than every third person who survived the terror attack on Utøya still struggles with post-traumatic stress disorders. One in five of their relatives states the same.

The last round of interviews was conducted last year, 8.5 years after the terror attack.

Researcher: Disappointing

Dyb calls the results disappointing. She points out that there has been no decline in the proportion of survivors struggling since the second round of interviews, 14 months after the terror attack.

“We expected that some would still have a hard time, but not so many,” she noted.

Leader Lisbeth Røyneland in the National Support Group after the July 22 attacks thinks it is sad that the number of struggling survivors has not decreased more.

“It shows that help is still needed. Treating trauma after a violent terrorist attack takes time,” Røyneland said.

As of 2020, four out of five Utøya survivors were fully or partially employed/engaged in work or studies. One in five received unemployment benefits, disability benefits, or other support schemes, the study shows.

Dyb says that many of them think about the incident on a daily basis.

“Here, we are also talking about people who are in an incredibly demanding phase of life, where they must educate themselves, get a job, and establish a social life,” Dyb added.

Not getting necessary health care

One in three Utøya survivors also says they lack access to necessary health care.

Dyb believes that the health care offer for Utøya youth was reduced too soon.

“After one year, many stopped getting follow-ups in the municipalities, following a recommendation from the Norwegian Directorate of Health. That was a very optimistic assessment,” Dyb said.

She emphasizes that it is never too late to seek help to process trauma.

“It is never too late to address the symptoms. There is adequate help out there that we know works.” 

Source: © NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today / #NorwayTodayNews

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