Hong Kong (UCAN): Caritas-Hong Kong has set up telephone hotlines to counsel people who were emotionally disturbed by the televised incident in Manila on Aug. 23 when a gunman took a group of Hong Kong tourists hostage.
“We’ve been receiving calls from people seeking help due to sadness, anxiety, anger and even hatred,” said Julitta Leung, a Caritas social worker. “News coverage can be overwhelming these days and some people can feel disturbed by it, especially people with emotional or mental problems.”
As Monday’s standoff in Manila escalated to its bloody end, with nine people dead including the gunman, it was shown live on TV in Hong Kong and throughout the world.
“Some people told me the scenes still linger in their minds,” said Leung. “Others are now worried that they might face a similar situation in their future travels.”
“I tell them it’s normal to have temporary worries and they usually subside in time. I also suggest to them that they avoid watching or reading the media reports.”
Many Hong Kong residents have Philippine domestic helpers and some callers to the hotline said they now feel uncomfortable in their presence.
“I tell them the Filipina helpers also feel sad about it and the way their country has handled the crisis,” Leung said.
Along with the hotline service, Caritas will hold a talk on emotional health on Aug. 29, to help restore people to a positive frame of mind.
The Hong Kong diocese and the Consulate General of the Philippines are also jointly organizing prayer vigils and Masses to mourn those who died.