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Forgotten victims of terror attacks

Trauma: Manchester Arena bombing victim Ruth Murrell meets the Queen PICTURES: PA

TERROR attack survivors have accused the government of abandoning them to cope with trauma alone by failing to provide adequate mental health care.

Victims of atrocities including the blast at Manchester Arena and the London Bridge attack revealed they have waited months or even years for psychological help.

Three in four believe mental health services need improving, the biggest-ever survey of terror survivors shows.

Shock: Survivors after Manchester attack

Many admitted having battled thoughts of suicide, while traumatised children have been turning to self-harm.

A letter demanding improvement will be delivered to Downing Street today by members of Survivors Against Terror. Charlotte Dixon Sutcliffe, who chairs the campaign group, said: ‘This survey has unearthed shocking stories that seem increasingly like the norm — survivors forced to pay for their own treatment, children harming themselves after being denied help and long waiting lists for people who urgently need support.

‘Governments promise survivors they will be looked after but this survey shows that when it comes to mental health they are being routinely let down.’

Among the survivors who have faced delays getting help are Ruth Murrell and daughter Emily, now 14, who both spent six weeks in hospital after being injured by shrapnel in the Manchester Arena bombing in May last year.

Mrs Murrell, who met the Queen after the atrocity that left 23 dead and 139 wounded, said: ‘The physical injuries were serious but the mental side was very much harder to deal with. I went to the doctors to ask for help with the trauma — all they could offer was anti-depressants.’

She was told she faced a wait of between nine and 12 months if referred for mental health counselling.

‘I couldn’t cope,’ said the mum from Copster Green in Lancashire. ‘There was a period when I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t eat and was vomiting constantly.

‘I’m ashamed to say it now but at the time I considered ending it all. My daughter was 12 and her experience was just as bad.

‘Services are already over-stretched before such events and there simply aren’t the trained resources available to deal with post-traumatic stress disorder, particularly when it comes to acts of terrorism.’

The 271 people who took part in the poll included survivors of last year’s attacks on London Bridge and Westminster Bridge, the 7/7 bombings, the Bataclan shooting in Paris in 2015 and the 2002 Bali bombing.

Many said they had paid for treatment because waits were so long. And of 76 per cent who said services needed to improve, three-quarters said the change must be ‘dramatic’. Other concerns include lack of financial help (raised by 52 per cent) and poor child support services (67 per cent).

A government spokesperson said: ‘The report found that in many areas survivors rate the support they receive highly, but there is clearly more to do.’ The Victims of Terrorism unit supports victims and ‘will continue to learn from their experiences’, the spokesperson added.