Oakland Organization Offers Help For Young Gunshot Victims

OAKLAND (KCBS)- 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 in Oakland.

KCBS’ Dave Padilla Reports:

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 assaulted.

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.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services may have contributed to this report.)

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