Nightly News | July 05, 2010
BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: One more story here from the gulf tonight. BP has always said it will pay, quote, "all legitimate claims" coming out of this oil disaster. But does that include the relentless mental anguish that so many people are experiencing because they believe they are witnessing the end of their way of life? It's not as easy to see as oil on the beaches, but it's there and it's serious. Our report tonight from NBC 's Kerry Sanders in Louisiana .
KERRY SANDERS reporting: Mental health experts say that oil, combined with an unknown future, is a toxic mix provoking a growing anxiety, especially for those who make their living on the waters here.
Unidentified Man #1: Shrimp, crab, fish, oysters, this is all we know. This is all we do.
SANDERS: Some fishermen who faced similar demons during Hurricane Katrina are increasingly reaching out for help again.
Unidentified Man #2: There are many problems of people being depressed.
SANDERS: Counselors report the number of those seeking help is growing.
Unidentified Man #3: What I had was -- I was happy with what I had. Not so much anymore.
Dr. HOWARD OSOFSKY (Louisiana State University Health Services): One of the people told me the other day, `I thought I'd finally put everything to rest, but it's like a can with a lid and all of a sudden the lid came off, and I find myself going through the same symptoms I was going through five years ago.'
SANDERS: Others like Merlin Spoon-Campo are coping in their own way. Do you cry?
Mr. MERLIN SPOON-CAMPO: Yes, I do. Yeah.
SANDERS: Is that good?
Mr. SPOON-CAMPO: Yeah. It eases you.
SANDERS: Fifty-five -year-old charter boat captain Allen Cruise couldn't face the crisis any longer.
KELLY: We kind of felt helpless out there.
SANDERS: His daughter Kelly is now mourning her father's suicide. She says her youngest memories are of her dad on the water here.
KELLY: I'll remember him on this boat until the day that I die.
SANDERS: She was on a nearby boat that morning.
KELLY: He yelled across the dock, you know. He said, `I love you and I'll talk to you on the radio.' And I told him I loved him, too, and that was -- that was the last time I spoke to him.
SANDERS: Counselors say it's the ones who don't ask for help who can be the most vulnerable.
Ms. MELISSA HARDY (Social Worker): This is beyond being tough. Being tough, you know, can only get you so far. And this is a disaster that makes people feel helpless.
SANDERS: Mental health experts say after Katrina folks here were able to rebuild their homes. But now with the oil, it's unclear if they'll ever be able to rebuild a way of life . Kerry Sanders , NBC News, Delacroix, Louisiana.