Death penalty may cause grief for some 

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The Australian Psychological Society acknowledges the profound loss and grief of the family, friends and supporters of Van Nguyen, and extends their heartfelt sympathy.

Amanda Gordon, President of the APS, encourages people to give themselves permission to acknowledge and mourn the death of Van. Many people may be moved by feelings of grief. Others may be taken by surprise. 'It is not unusual for people to feel a mixture of emotions', says Amanda Gordon. 'People may experience sadness, but also might feel numb, shocked, angry, guilty, helpless or hopeless. Their sense of safety and trust may be eroded'.

People who put time and energy into campaigning to prevent Van's death might be especially affected. People who have experienced trauma and abuse may experience a recurrence of traumatic symptoms by association.

Amanda Gordon says, "People grieve in many different ways. Some people may choose to find some quiet moments to acknowledge Van's life, spend time with friends and family, make time for some physical activity, or contribute to organizations that support people in need".

Psychologists at the APS join with the Australian Government in condemnation of the death penalty as a cruel and inhumane punishment. We are all diminished by his death.

'Van's sentence and death has raised a number of issues for Australians', says Amanda Gordon. 'We have asked difficult questions about the rights of one country to comment on human rights' abuses in another country; we have considered the complex problems of drug addiction and the problems of drug trafficking. We are asking important questions about the justice and usefulness of retribution and extreme punishment. Our continued vigilance to improve the way we deal with drug abuse, treat prisoners, and uphold human rights in our country, will go some way towards ensuring that we can salvage something good from this situation".

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For more information:

Elaine Grant
Communications Manager
Australian Psychological Society
03 8662 3300 or 0412 683 068