The Austin Community Grieves

The death of a young woman in the early hours of New Year’s Day in Austin, Texas has shaken the community.  Esme Barrera walked home from a New Year’s celebration and was murdered in her home – she was 29 years old.  Two other women were attacked on the same night, one in her home and one walking on the street in the same area.  The suspicion is that the same man perpetrated all three crimes.  Esme, a member of the Austin music community and special education teacher, was loved by all who met her.  Many have developed online tributes and ways to donate to her family in this time of need.

I write about this tragedy as a therapist, but also as a member of a community in grief.  The shocking death of a member of our community can shake the very core of our beings. Even a strong foundation of normalcy and safety is taken away by such a malicious act.  This is a uniquely horrific tragedy to the Austin community because we experience only a fraction of the violent crime that most cities do; a 2009 census study sites that Austin experienced 523 violent crimes, only 2.9 per 100,000 were murders.  With a population of about 650,000 people, that’s about 19 murders in a year.  Compare that to a city like Baltimore, MD, a similarly sized city, with over 1,500 violent crimes in 2009 and 32.9 murders per 100,000 people, over 200 murders per year.

To have a beloved person murdered in the first few hours of 2012 is a horrifying way to start the new year.  If you are scared or feel traumatized by this incident, I encourage you to seek help from a friend, colleague, neighbor, or professional.  In times of need, Austin bands together and this is certainly a time of need.

Take good care, Austinites.

Sol Associates

Sol Community Counseling

Capital Area Counseling (512) 302-1000 x 100