When people cry out “Black lives matter,” in reaction to police brutality and excessive force, you will always get some asshole reply with,”What about Black-on-Black crime?” While it is silly to compare violence inflicted on citizens by citizens to violence inflicted inflicted on citizens by the state, the issue of inner-city violence is a serious one. While there are many who work day in and day out in these communities to combat conflict, there is still much work to be done. However, there are victims of inner-city violence that aren’t focused on as much: the loved ones and witnesses of street violence. A large segment of these adults and (even more disturbingly) children touched by the violent loss of a loved one suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Symptoms of PTSD, as described by Al Jazeera reporter Michelle Chen in 2014, can manifest in “an array of stress responses including flashbacks, persistent feelings of fear or shame, a sense of alienation and aggressive behavior.” Chen reported:
Among the most trauma-ridden neighborhoods are impoverished communities of color where inequality fuels hopelessness. That drives vulnerable youths deeper into violence, both as victims and as perpetrators. Studies on youths (PDF) have traced PTSD symptoms back to forms of violence — from street shootings and police chases to sexual assault — that have become routine in rough city neighborhoods.
According to the report, the levels of PTSD in urban areas where violence runs rampant is comparable to PTSD resulting from the Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan wars. In a study of inner-city hospital patients in Atlanta showed that one in every three people experienced PTSD symptoms at one point in life. Another study conducted at Cook County Hospital in Chicago showed that four out of every ten patients exhibited symptoms of PTSD. That number increased among those wounded by gunshots.
The lack of mental health care in these areas makes matter worse. Many of these communities do not have a nearby mental health facility for people to go to for help. That is, if they want to get help at all. Beneath the surface, there has been an issue brewing for years concerning Black mental health overall. Largely, Black folks do not pursue psychiatric therapy due to the stigma attached to mental illness. There is also a widespread culture of denial and resistance to the acceptance of a problem.
Read the full report here, to get a more complete view of the facts surrounding the PTSD epidemic surging through hoods in America.