Valley psychologist: Yarnell victims could face survivor's guilt - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Valley psychologist: Yarnell victims could face survivor's guilt


A lot of healing is taking place after the Yarnell Hill wildfire tragedy claimed 19 lives, and destroyed half the town.

But as people try to move forward, it could be even more difficult for some.

It's called "survivor's guilt". A Valley psychologist says those who lived, when others died, may be feeling it. But that it has more far-reaching effects.

The devastation left behind by the deadly wildfire could plague the firefighters, who now live with unnerving thoughts and questions, that have no real answers.

"Why me? Why did I live? Why did he have to go?" are some of those questions said Dr. Brad Bayless with Bayless Healthcare Group.

Homeowners who had a home to go return to could also be affected.

"Why did my house not get burned to the ground? And my neighbors house did?" asked Dr. Bayless.

The Valley psychologist said those are all signs of survivor's guilt.

"It really is kind of like a virus that kind of spreads and infects everyone that has experienced this traumatic event," he said.

One, he says, that Brendan McDonough, the lone survivor of the Granite Mountain Hot Shots could be facing right now. But Bayless says he won't be the only one with a hard time.

"It's just the most noble. I've never been in a position for somebody to give their life for me, and I know they did, and it's just terrible to think of that," said Robert Westall who told CBS 5 News his home was destroyed. He said he saw the Granite Mountain Hot Shots trying to save it.

Whatever life throws our way, Bayless says humans will push forward to survive, and work together to come back from tragedy.

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting). All rights reserved.

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