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Thai cave rescue: the emotional impact on boys

REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

Thai cave rescue: the emotional impact on boys

Thai cave rescue: the emotional impact on boys

Latest updates on the Thai care rescue have authorities believing that a three- to four-day window exists to free 12 boys stranded inside a northern Thailand cave. 

The group of boys had been missing since finishing football practice on 23 June, and were found alive a week ago. Soldiers, medics and rescue workers from all around the world have come together in aid of the rescue attempts. However, rainfall is forecast to grow more intense in coming days and become torrential by early next week, giving rescuers only a few days to extract the boys and their 25-year-old coach before they could be sealed off until as late as January, reports The Guardian.

The psychological effects this is having on the young boys and their 25-year-old soccer coach – who has been teaching the boys the technique of Buddhist meditation in order to calm them – has been enormous given the uncertainty over their rescue. This according to Associate Professor Sarb Johal, Joint Centre for Disaster Research, Massey University and GNS Science.

“From the perspective of those boys and their coach, the relief of being found may co-exist with the knowledge that they remain stuck and that their future remains uncertain. It’s hard to know for certain what they do and do not know about their chances of rescue in the short term, and how they may adapt to trying to deal with the possibility that rising floods waters may be a threat to their ability to survive their ordeal, or that they may remain trapped for weeks or months while people figure out the best plan or action.

“What we know from the research literature means that we can make an educated guess that the boys may experience feelings of helplessness, fear, confusion and anxiety are likely, as well as worries that their situation may become hopeless,” Professor Johal says.

The guilt of the young soccer coach must also be weighing heavily on his mind says Professor Johal. However, in letters written by parents to the boys, they say the coach should not blame himself – as they wait and pray in hope of their rescue.

The Guardian reports: “To all the kids,” one letter, written by the mother of Nattawut Takamsai, 14, said. “We are not mad at you at all. Do take good care of yourself. Don’t forget to cover yourself with blankets as the weather is cold. We’re worried. You will come out soon.”

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