9/11 Survivor And LSU Faculty Member Takes Lead To Break Stigma Around PTSD



Hairston, an LSU faculty member, had been employed at a bank a mere three blocks away from the Twin Towers in 2001. The memories of that fateful morning remained vivid in her mind and she started suffering from PTSD. 

The experience left Hairston grappling with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and she is now determined to openly share her story, encouraging greater dialogue about this condition and working towards dismantling the associated stigma.

Real Life Story To Break PTSD Stigma 

On a day dedicated to commemorating historical events, LSU student Sydney Stevens sat in the university’s history department, pondering a day that unfolded before her birth. The significance of September 11, 2001, had always been palpable in her life.

“Every year, on that day, a lot of my teachers would just talk about 9/11 on that day and try to inform us on that history and all the different perspectives on it,” Stevens remarked.

For Stevens, her understanding of 9/11 was pieced together from books and online articles. Little did she know that within the very office she used for her studies, there resided a woman who had experienced the aftermath of 9/11 firsthand.

“Although it was 22 years ago that it happened, it feels like it was just the other day,” said Carol Hairston.

Hairston, a coordinator at LSU’s history department, had been employed at a bank a mere three blocks away from the Twin Towers in 2001. The memories of that fateful morning remained vivid in her mind.

“Two co-workers came running into our department screaming that a plane had hit the first tower,” Hairston recollected.

Uncertainty hung in the air, prompting Hairston to make a phone call to her husband at the time. The line got disconnected, leading her to dial her parents’ number. In that moment, the gravity of the situation became all too clear.

“My father had never called me ‘baby.’ He told me, ‘Baby, I don’t care what you do, I don’t care where you go, but you need to get out,’” recalled Hairston.

She, along with her colleagues, ventured outside, and that’s when the reality hit them like a ton of bricks.

“When I looked up, all I could do was just say, ‘Oh my God,’” said Hairston.

Dust and soot covered Hairston and her surroundings. In the corner of her eye, she witnessed an image etched forever into her memory.

“I had never seen anything like it before. The plane was sticking out of the World Trade Center. Burning,” she recounted.

With adrenaline coursing through her veins, Hairston embarked on a harrowing journey, running over 100 blocks. After hours of uncertainty, she finally made it back home.

“I couldn’t sleep. I would wake up screaming because I witnessed people jumping from the towers,” she admitted.

The trauma of that moment led to Hairston developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Her hope now is to share her story, urging more people to speak openly about this disorder and break the stigma surrounding it.

“It’s a day to remember,” emphasized Hairston.

Despite her willingness to discuss her experience, Hairston remains steadfast in her decision to never return to New York City. Her last visit was in 2003.

“I would love to go and pay my respects there, but I just can’t bring myself to do it,” she confessed.

As Hairston continues her tenure at LSU, she yearns for every student she encounters to take a moment to comprehend the significance of this day and how it reshaped the course of the nation’s history.

“There’s a connection everywhere even if you don’t realize it,” noted Stevens.

— Share —

Up Next

Addressing Racial Disparities in Mental Health, Clinicians and Lawmakers Collaborate

Racial Disparities in Mental Health

In recent years, there has been a growing recognition of the significant racial disparities in mental health outcomes among different racial and ethnic groups in the United States. These disparities, deeply rooted in systemic inequities, have raised concerns and prompted action from clinicians and lawmakers alike.

In this article, we will explore the barriers related to race in accessing mental health care and the collaborative efforts underway to address them.

Understanding the Racial Disparities In Mental Health

Mental health disparities along racial lines

Up Next

A New Campaign in Greene County Sheds Light on Mental Health Of Men

Mental health of men

The mental health of men has long been a topic shrouded in stigma and silence. However, a new campaign in Greene County is seeking to change that narrative by shedding light on the mental health struggles that many men face and encouraging open conversations.

The campaign, aptly titled “Breaking Barriers: Men’s Mental Health Matters,” is a collaborative effort between local mental health organizations, community leaders, and individuals who are passionate about addressing this critical issue.

Its primary goal is to raise awareness about the unique challenges men experience regarding mental health and to provide resources and support for those in need.

Up Next

Promoting Mental Health Conversations: “Fight Like a Ninja” Takes Center Stage During Suicide Prevention Month

Fight Like a Ninja

In a world where discussing mental health issues remains a challenge for many, “Fight Like a Ninja” emerges as a powerful force, encouraging conversations and shattering stigmas surrounding mental health. September, recognized as Suicide Prevention Month, provides an ideal backdrop for this initiative, which aims to ignite change one conversation at a time.

Mental health struggles, including depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts, affect millions of individuals worldwide. Despite the prevalence of these issues, they are often shrouded in silence and stigma. Recognizing the urgent need to address this silence, “Fight Like a Ninja” steps into the spotlight.

“Fight Like a Ninja” is more than just a catchy phrase; it’s a movement founded by Kevin Hines, who survived a suicide attempt by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. Hines, now an advocate for mental h

Up Next

Mental Health Challenges In Rocky Mountain Region Spark Initiative To Address Increasing Suicide Rates

Increasing suicide rates

The Rocky Mountain region is grappling with a pressing mental health crisis, and the statistics are staggering. This vast expanse of natural beauty and outdoor recreation is unfortunately plagued by the increasing suicide rates in the United States. Across the Western Slope, suicide rates can soar to three times the statewide average.

The serene and picturesque communities nestled in Summit County and its environs are not immune to these daunting mental health challenges. Over the past decade, Summit County has witnessed a persistent increase in local suicide rates, casting a long shadow over the close-knit community.

John Padilla, a passionate skier and filmmaker hailing from Bozeman, Montana, is intimately acquainted with the mental health crisis gripping the Mountain West. The crisis became deeply personal for him when his brother, Jack, tragically took

Up Next

Innovative Program Addresses Therapist Shortage And Supports Career Advancement

Therapist Shortage

As awareness surrounding the importance of mental health continues to grow, behavioral health providers are experiencing a therapist shortage. This increased demand underscores the need for licensed professionals to meet the rising mental health challenges.

Laura Gilbow, a dedicated medical social worker with a master’s degree in social work, has always been passionate about helping patients and their families at Stormont Vail Hospital in Topeka. While she found her work rewarding, she felt the desire to delve deeper into the issues her patients faced.

“At the hospital, you assist patients during their three or four-day stay, helping them stabilize and transition to their next phase. However, there wasn’t enough time to truly explore and address underlying issues,” she expla

Up Next

California’s CARE Courts: When Mental Health Care Meets Civil Rights

CARE Courts

California’s CARE Courts represent a bold and contentious step forward in the ongoing struggle to address mental health and homelessness.

Heidi Sweeney’s journey through the labyrinth of mental illness led her to a place where hallucinations dictated her reality. Under the influence of these haunting voices, she sought refuge amidst the vibrant backdrop of Huntington Beach in Orange County, California, believing it to be her sanctuary.

Amidst beachgoers playing volleyball and cruising on their bikes, she slept in homeless encampments and, later, beside a liquor store, attempting to drown out the cacophony of voices that only she could hear with vodka.

Up Next

Community Aims to Eradicate Mental Health Stigma Through Suicide Prevention Efforts

Suicide prevention efforts

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there has been a 2.6% increase in suicide rates between 2021 and 2022, resulting in a tragic suicide death occurring approximately every 11 minutes. Addressing this complex and pressing public health issue is a formidable task, but a group of dedicated local volunteers has made it their mission to promote mental well-being through suicide prevention efforts. 

Suicide rates have been on the rise since the turn of the millennium, a concerning trend that has been exacerbated by the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Suicide Prevention Efforts To Raise