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Psychologists recommend listening to teens following tragic deaths

Vigils can be healing, but listening may be helpful too. Psychologist Betsy Bates Freed said she sees a lot of people who are dealing with shocking, traumatic grief .

She said that is what many local teens are feeling following the untimely deaths of classmates.

Over the weekend 18-year-old Filiberto Hernandez went missing. On Monday, the Carpinteria High School senior’s body was discovered beneath a Carpinteria cliff.

On Saturday afternoon, 18-year-old Santa Barbara High senior Connor O’Keefe was struck and killed by a train in Montecito.

Many teens shared the news on social media before Santa Barbara County investigators released information.

“For many, this is the first time they have had to experience anything like this, and they can’t imagine it will get better. Tell them it will,” said Dr.Bates Freed. She said sometimes talking to parents isn’t enough.

The Santa Barbara County Psychological Association and the Santa Barbara Response Network can help. Dr. Bates Freed said professionals can be more objective and just listen.

They won’t try to fix feelings or judge grieving teens. She recommends being around people who are comforting. If a professional is needed, she said people should not hesitate to call for help.

There is a ‘find a psychologist’ link on the SBCPA’s website at

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