After Emergency Room doctors patch up a young gunshot victim,
the patient is given time to recover from the physical wound. While
time may heal, there is still the mental wound that lingers
according to Anne Marks, the executive director of Oakland-based
Youth Alive-an urban violence prevention organization.
Many young gunshot victims are experiencing Post Traumatic
Stress Disorder (PTSD), something that was initially linked to
soldiers. Violence prevention experts discussed ways to improve
mental health care for these victims at the two day National
Network of Hospital-based Violence Intervention Programs this week
Marks spoke about the problems of living in communities where
victims see violence on a regular basis.
"You get shot on your block, in front of your house, you get
treated and you go right back to that house in that same community.
You don't know if someone's coming back to get you." she said.
Marks said the victim will likely suffer from what she calls,
"Recurring Traumatic Stress Syndrome" Typically identified as Post
Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Dr. Rochelle Dicker, a trauma surgeon at San Francisco General,
runs a violence-prevention project that works directly with
patients who've been shot stabbed or in some way physically
Dicker said that PTSD is treatable, but that traditionally,
"this particular population" has not wanted to seek mental health
care because of the stigma attached. Now she's finding more youth
are opening up to the idea of once they hear how it can help them
cope with their trauma.