Feeling anxious after recent Southern Maine shootings? You’re not alone

Published: Apr. 25, 2023 at 5:45 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

YARMOUTH, Maine (WABI) - Tuesday marks one week since four people were found shot to death at a home in Bowdoin, and another three people were injured in a shooting on I-295 in Yarmouth.

Mainers are still dealing with the effects of those acts of violence.

Events like these are difficult to hear about, and if you’re struggling with your emotions surrounding the shooting, you’re not alone.

“You know how you always say, ‘It’s never going to happen here’ and all of that? I’m the type of anxious person who believes it could happen here, but it’s different when you’re in the middle of it. When you have your 5-year-old, your 3-year-old, your 1-year-old with you and you’re like, ‘This could be it,” said Topsham’s Courtney Stackhouse.

Stackhouse, who is originally from Bangor, was driving on I-295 last Tuesday with her three daughters when she just missed a shooting that left three people injured. For a time while it was all happening, she was without cell service and without answers.

“I didn’t know what was going to happen, so I just really, I just spent a little time with them. I hugged them super tight, and I just said goodbye to them,” said Stackhouse.

Joseph Eaton, 34, of Bowdoin, was arrested at the scene in Yarmouth.

He’s currently facing murder charges for the killing of four people, including his parents, at a home in Bowdoin.

“We certainly see incidents of domestic violence, which this situation included, but then when you add that layer of random violence it takes it from – it’s someone you know – to – it could happen to anybody,” said Wendy St. Pierre, assistant professor of mental health and human services, University of Maine at Augusta.

“I’m driving down the highway now, and I’m like, I could get shot. That is my automatic, sad fear. But it’s true! It could happen. Is it probably going to happen again in that same spot? No. But, now I know that it could,” Stackhouse said.

St. Pierre says feelings of anxiety following a shooting are normal. She says it’s important to acknowledge what happened - but not to dwell on it - and try not to overwhelm yourself with information.

“How do we each figure out what is enough to be informed and not taking unnecessary risks, but at what point does it become too much that it’s impacting my sleep, how I’m doing, the way I’m driving to work, those types of things,” St. Pierre said.

That’s when St. Pierre suggests it’s time to talk with a professional about how you’re feeling.

For Stackhouse, who is open about her history with anxiety, it’s an option she’s considering.

“It is helpful for me, definitely, to have someone to talk to. I’m currently not talking to someone, but my driving anxiety ramped up and this is kind of the icing on the cake, and I really think it would be helpful for me to start talk therapy again,” Stackhouse said.

Eaton has not yet been charged in connection with the Yarmouth shootings

In the meantime, the Bowdoinham father and his two adult children who were all shot on I-295 continue to improve.

Paige Halsey, 25, was moved out of the ICU on Monday but remains at Maine Medical Center where her condition is listed as serious but stable.