They find the victims' pain is going from visible to invisible. For example, they might shed tears at first, but now they just keep it to themselves.
Those who lost family members are recovering with the most difficulty.
Children who survived the May 12 Sichuan earthquake relax during musical therapy in Haikou, Hainan Province, on Saturday, June 14, 2008. Therapist Gu Defen says she tries to heal their psychological traumas by guiding them in playing and listening to light music. [File Photo]
About 700 victims are divided into four groups at Menghu (Tiger) Community in Huangshaba resettlement site in Zhuyuan Township in Qingchuan.
"The first, second and third groups have 50 percent victims who lost family members. The fourth has only one family with member loss," said community worker Hou Famin. "Few in the first three groups go out to work as migrant workers. In contrast, most young laborers in the fourth group have gone to cities for temporary jobs."
"Most survivors say they fear further catastrophes and are awaiting them after the earthquake: they might get into typhoons or tsunamis even if they go out of their hometown to work," said Cheng Buqiang, head of the second group in the community.
"Those who stay at the resettlement community mostly are penniless, with no farmland, money or materials to start production with," Hou said. "Another reason they are unwilling to work as migrant workers is worries that they might not get farmland or a house allotted by the government if they were away."
Experts believed three to six months after the earthquake victims might experience peak psychological stress and feel lonely, helpless, depressed or even commit suicide as the initial tension eases after the disaster and public attention might shift to other topics.
The death of a grassroots official, however, drew public attention back to Sichuan again. Dong Yufei, head of agriculture commission and disaster relief office in Beichuan County, committed suicide on Oct. 3 possibly due to psychological pain and work pressure.
He lost his 12-year-old son and overworked for five months after the disaster.
One week after his death, the county required all departments to resume a normal work schedule to ensure two days of rest each week for staff.
Nearly half the 20,000 registered residents in the county's town died in the earthquake, including 466 or a quarter of the grassroots county officials. Only about 10 percent of the families in town were intact with parents and their only child alive, said Jing Dazhong, Beichuan County head.
Further natural disasters hindered the county. Rainstorms and landslides left six dead and 10 missing, destroying newly-built shelters on Sept. 24, Beichuan County statistics show.
"Dong must felt have guilty about persuading victims to move into the shelters," one of his colleague said.
After the quake, locals have a new ritual to greet each other in Beichuan: one asks "how are you" and the other put out fingers to indicate how many family members or relatives he lost.