Inner-City Violence & PTSD - a Hidden Epidemic

The rates of PTSD we see are as high or higher than Iraq, Afghanistan, or Vietnam veterans.
— Dr. Kerry Ressler, researcher on inner-city residents exposed to violence

Hospitals and emergency room staff should routinely screen for PTSD symptoms prior to discharge for victims of violent crime, sexual assaults, vehicular accidents, health emergencies and near-death experiences, among other traumatic physical injuries. At the very least, a discharge hand-out with information on the definition of trauma, indication that the patient has experienced a traumatic event, a list of potential symptoms, and instructions for what to do if symptoms are experienced. Early treatment is key. Unfortunately, this is not standard practice in most hospitals across the country.

Rates of PTSD among civilians living in high-crime, inner cities is disproportionately high versus the rest of the country, and as high or higher than among combat veterans. We don't talk about this as a society.

According to a thoroughly researched ProPublica article by Lois Beckett titled The PTSD Crisis That’s Being Ignored: Americans Wounded in Their Own Neighborhoods, it is stated that "Researchers in Atlanta interviewed more than 8,000 inner-city residents and found that about two-thirds said they had been violently attacked and that half knew someone who had been murdered. At least 1 in 3 of those interviewed experienced symptoms consistent with PTSD at some point in their lives – and that’s a “conservative estimate,” said Dr. Kerry Ressler, the lead investigator on the project." 

Researchers conducted surveys of hospitals and trauma centers around the country, and found very few that screened seriously injured patients and crime victims for PTSD. Most institutions cite funding as a primary deterrent. There has been enormous progress on the front for combat-related PTSD research, training and program development. This progress is sure to bring cross-over benefits to the civilian PTSD population, but more work, funding, and research dedicated to civilian trauma survivors, with trauma-specific focuses, is essential. Let's keep the conversation going... we need more articles, more advocates, more voices, more research, more spotlight to recognize and help ALL the Faces of PTSD; all ages, all genders, all lifestyles... etc. Every survivor counts. Please take the time to read this exceptionally well written and researched article:

The PTSD Crisis That’s Being Ignored: Americans Wounded in Their Own Neighborhoods by Lois Beckett