The numbers of people emotionally affected by the fallout of violent crime can be large and varied, says Jane Darougar, an Executive member of BACP's Universities and Colleges division. 

Jane, a college counsellor in east London, says there is a lot of work being done to support family, friends and members of the wider community who have been bereaved or otherwise affected by violent crime.

“There have been a number of deaths in our borough and in neighbouring boroughs over the last couple of years and we have noticed how surprisingly wide the pool is of people who are deeply and profoundly affected,” said Jane.

“It’s something people don’t realise. If a person is murdered it might be their parents, siblings, partners, classmates, previous classmates, friends from the football club … there is a massive network of people who are grieving and in shock.”

Violent crime, and in particular knife crime, has risen in recent years. Indeed, figures from the Office for National Statistics showed a 22% increase in offences involving knives or sharp instruments in 2017.

Going off the rails

Jane said the emotions involved can lead to young people “going off the rails” and turning their backs on the supportive factors in their lives, such as education.

She said: “It can be difficult to keep them learning and for them to recognise that education is a strong factor in their lives, to help them reach their potential, to give them structure and normality in their lives.”

The wider fallout of violent crime that Jane talks about is underlined by Alika Agidi-Jeffs, who has talked about how his mental health was affected.

“Two of my friends were killed in one week, and the week after I had a gun put to my head,“ said the 27-year-old from south London. “Before I knew it all these things mounted and I was having a breakdown. I was gearing up for suicide.

“It rocked up my world. I thought I was the only one in the world going through it.”

Counselling when they need it

Jane says it is important for people to be able to access counselling when they need it. For some, she says, it is in the immediate aftermath but for others it could be further down the line.

“Sometimes people don’t need counselling straight away,” she said. “It might be one or two years later that they are ready to talk.”

She said the emotions that young people are expressing included grief, anxiety and anger.

“A lot of young people don’t feel safe,” Jane said. “That’s not normal. When someone is murdered it can strip away certainty. We expect young people will be looking forward to their futures.

“It can be very difficult to sit down with a young person to start writing their UCAS form when they are worried about a future they might not have,” she added.

To find a counsellor or therapist to talk about issues such as bereavement, grief and anxiety see the BACP therapist directory.