- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 6, 2006

The effects of terrorism linger: After five years, those closest to the September 11 attacks often face a mix of old fears and anxieties, according to a survey of 500 surviving family members and first responders released yesterday.

The most negative reactions were directed toward the press and Hollywood. The survey from the New York-based World Trade Center Family Center found that 75 percent of the respondents said “media coverage of 9/11-related issues continue to increase emotional distress for adults and children, including grief, anxiety, fear of another attack and depression.”

Respondents named movies and ongoing news coverage as the worst culprits. Only 5 percent of survivors said the reports and films were “important so people will remember.”

Two films opened this year dealing with the events of September 11. Print and broadcast news organizations are gearing up for substantial coverage of the fifth anniversary Monday, many showcasing disturbing images and video footage. “Path to 9/11” on ABC is under fire from Democrats and liberal bloggers who say the miniseries blames the attacks on the Clinton administration.

For survivors — those who lost a family member at the World Trade Center or who were first responders — a sense of safety is paramount.

The survey found that 60 percent said they do not feel personally safe and that the United States is not safer today; 17 percent felt the country was safer, while 22 percent were undecided. Among those with safety concerns, about half “held the government in Washington responsible.”

Some respondents called for more border security, or were philosophical about the realities of terrorism.

“We can’t control it. We can’t stop crazy people,” one respondent noted. Another said, “We can’t worry about it and focus on it.”

About a third of the first responders at ground zero report they are depressed about their experiences; four out of 10 say they can’t shake the lingering effects. Half of the firefighters and two-thirds of the construction workers at the site report symptoms of post-traumatic stress.

Among children who lost a parent on September 11, more than a third said they continue to have “intrusive thoughts” about the attacks, 42 percent underperformed at school and more than a third had post-traumatic stress or separation anxiety.

The survey did find some good news. It revealed that 90 percent of those children continued to seek ways to honor their lost parents and 55 percent said they had good relationships with their siblings. Among adults, 60 percent reported that family support and togetherness had increased.

The survey was conducted through the South Nassau Communities Hospital, which founded the family center on Sept. 29, 2001, to offer free counseling and care to local survivors of the attacks.

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