Youth ALIVE!’s Caught in the Crossfire client Jean Eason, Intervention Specialist Ray Estrada and Executive Director, Anne Marks were featured on NBC News. The story aired March 4, 2014.
Post-traumatic stress disorder is often associated with troops coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan, but victims of violent crime are often developing PTSD at rates comparable to veterans of war, the Investigative Unit has learned.
Trauma patients may not be getting the help they need, however, and that may be costing entire communities in healthcare and public safety. A growing body of research shows that people who are shot, stabbed and beaten with untreated symptoms of PTSD can be more likely to carry weapons, have a harder time holding onto their jobs and end up back in the hospital.
NBC Bay Area News, in connection with the nonprofit journalism organization ProPublica, found that trauma centers in the Bay Area and around the nation can be doing more to address the disorder that disproportionally affects victims of neighborhood violence.
The Oakland organization Youth Alive! found that hospital-based violence intervention programs do, indeed work. For two decades the group’s “Caught in the Crossfire” program has served 1,200 victims of violence at Highland Hospital and Children’s Hospital and Research Center—both in in Oakland—and Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley. In a study undertaken by the organization in 2000, Youth Alive! found that people who received intervention were 70 percent less likely to be arrested and 60 percent less likely to engage in violent crime.
“There are hundreds of thousands of people, mostly young men, who have undiagnosed symptoms of trauma. They are not sleeping well, they’re depressed and disconnected from love ones,” said Youth Alive! director Anne Marks. “The understanding and sympathy we have shown to soldiers who have come back from war we have to show to the young people who don’t come back from the battlefield.”
Oakland resident Jean Eason is recovering from a traumatic injury he sustained more than two years ago when a bullet passed through his right leg. Eason, 23, was hanging out in a friend’s car near the intersection of Golf Links Road and 82nd Avenue in Oakland New Year’s Eve morning in 2011.
“Next thing I know I just started hearing shots,” he said. “I am hanging there with my foot caught and I saw the blood splatter. I laid down on the street; paramedics came and I ended up in the hospital.”
Eason says that when he was released from Highland Hospital, almost immediately he was hit with a wave of depression. He felt isolated and lost, and was plagued by nightmares.
“The dreams kept going and I kept hearing gunshots go off,” Eason said.
Soon after the shooting he got a call from an intervention specialist from Caught in the Crossfire, who drove him to medical appointments, took him out to eat and to baseball games and connected him with a therapist, whom he still sees today.
“I don’t hear the gunshots anymore but I still have the nightmares,” Eason said. “I just try to find a goal every day and do something for it and stay out of trouble.”