In 1918 a simple Flu strain ravaged our city sounding a national alert with doctors and medical assistance from around the world. Today, we have a man-made, engineered and promoted disease, Chicago Strain V. Violence in Chicago is a plague transmitting harm to the tens of thousands surrounding over 3600 homicides since 2011. We must focus on these numbers as would the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Violence is a growing epidemic disease that must be treated as a public health crisis. In 2018 Chicago has already witnessed 228 people shot. Of those shot, 38 have died and 190 have been wounded. Chicago is not off to a great start. It’s off to a bloody start. Find the cure now.
Chicago Strain V creates mental health issues including PTSD, stress, anxiety, and depression which creates a lower quality of life which in turn creates a risk of perpetuating violence. The vicious cycle of the epidemic begins with a group or clustering of violence which then is spread to directly outlying areas and then transmission occurs throughout every person in the Chicago boundaries. A quick glance at the Chicago Sun-Times Homicide Watch map attests to the disease.
The first step to a cure is implementing a public health crisis alert. Leaders and residents must view the violence as a health issue instead of a neighborhood or crime issue. A recent study by Stroger Hospital found 4 in 10 non-violent related illness patients screened showed symptoms of PTSD, even higher for those wounded. This verifies that we are all becoming victims to this wide-spreading disease.
According to the National Center for PTSD, counseling is a successful cure for stopping the depression and anxiety that leads to new and recurring violence. The second step to controlling the disease is inoculating the PTSD, stress, anxiety, and depression by expanding counseling services. The City of Chicago Department of Public Health systems involvement is key with 25 health centers throughout the city allowing thousands of people to receive free counseling.
The City of Chicago must provide funding for community centers and schools to house counseling centers. We must forward funds to community centers and schools to increase counseling as our youth are the most affected by this epidemic disease.
True success will come by combining PTSD counseling with Cognitive Behavior Therapy. According to Cure Violence, as social services are depleted violence grows. Community programming must increase in our most embattled neighborhoods for counseling’s real effects to take place in changing behavior patterns to enlighten and grow. We must re-fund Cease Fire programs, expand park district programming and after-school matters programming. Counseling must be combined with creating safe spaces for growth in the same areas where people live.
Chicago Strain V can and will be combated and cured but not through policing alone. We, as a City, must combine our resources with residential needs to make Chicago safe again. The residents of the City of Chicago have a right to healthy living inclusive of a safe neighborhood that’s free of gun violence. This is a Call to Action for all City leaders to save our streets, our families, and our city.