22. juli-senteret

What do we know about those affected after 22 July?

The people affected after 22 July 2011 are a diverse group with different needs. They were affected by the terror attack in different ways, and therefore, need different levels of follow-up. Eight people were killed at the government building complex. Nine sustained life-threatening or serious injuries, and many more suffered physical injuries and psychological distress. More than 3,000 people worked in the government building complex, and as such, were the target of the attack although they were not there. A total of 69 people were killed on Utøya, many of whom were very young. 33 people sustained life-threatening or serious gunshot wounds. There were 564 people on the island when the attack began, most of them were members of the Norwegian Labour Party’s youth organisation. Many volunteers put their own lives at risk in order to help others at the government building complex and on Utøya. The survivors and the bereaved family members come from all parts of the country, and some also have backgrounds from outside Norway’s borders. Assuming that each of the dead has ten family members, there are approximately 770 bereaved persons after the attack on the government building complex and on Utøya.

After the terror attack on 22 July 2011, different groups of people directly exposed to trauma were identified, and a plan was issued for their follow-up. It was clear to the authorities early on that these people needed different kinds of follow-up, which resulted in the development of a two-part model. An action-oriented approach was sought, and a proactive model for following up those affected. A proactive municipal model was used for those who were affected by the terror attack on Utøya, while a proactive operational model was developed through the occupational health service for those who worked in the government building complex. The municipal model was the most relevant for those who were affected in the government building complex, but who did not work there. This was also the case for some of the bereaved who had lost family members in the bombing.

The Norwegian Centre for Violence and Traumatic Stress Studies (Nasjonalt kunnskapssenter om vold og traumatisk stress, NKVTS) is a knowledge centre that develops and disseminates information on violence and traumatic stress. After 22 July 2011, the Norwegian Directorate of Health assigned the Centre the task of conducting a study involving all survivors from Utøya and their parents. The study evaluated their reactions during and after the terror attack on Utøya. The study also included physical as well as mental health issues, coping and social functioning over time. In addition to the Utøya study, NKVTS has also examined how employees in the government building complex were affected by the bombing. Three sets of data were collected in the period 2012-2014, and data from before and after the attack on medical certificated sick leave and use of diagnosis were collected in 2015 from the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration (NAV) and Statistics Norway (SSB). Interviews about reactions after the attack were also conducted.

The Centre for Crisis Psychology is a university centre with a national research and education mission, focused on areas such as emergency response, trauma, grief and serious somatic disease. The Centre has studied the consequences for the bereaved after the terror attack on Utøya on 22 July 2011. The study looked at the course of grief and trauma reactions as well as functioning in work and social life over three and a half years after the attack. The Centre for Crisis Psychology initiated a new study in autumn 2019 which will examine how the bereaved families are doing, eight years after the terror attack.