"When Hurricane Katrina swirled onto the Louisiana shore and residents of New Orleans clogged highways to flee, John McCusker stayed behind," the Huffington Post's Gabriel Arana reported Monday in the first of a five-part series on mental health in the newsroom.
"A photographer for The Times-Picayune for more than two decades, McCusker paddled through the city's muddy waters in a kayak, day after day, documenting the destruction. Like many of the city's residents, he had lost his home and all of his possessions. His family had relocated to Birmingham, Alabama, five hours away.
"On Aug. 8, 2006 — after nearly a year of documenting the trauma surrounding him — McCusker was seen driving erratically through the city. When police caught up with him at a traffic stop, he begged officers to end his life. 'Just kill me, just kill me,' he repeated. 'Get it over with.' McCusker backed up, pinning a cop between vehicles before speeding off, crashing into cars and signs along the way. When police caught up with him again, they subdued him with a stun gun and arrested him. McCusker says he only remembers waking up in four-point restraints.
"'I had no idea how I got there,' he said.
"As much as journalists may fancy themselves superhuman observers of history, the truth is that we are as susceptible to trauma as the victims whose stories we tell. . . ."
Arana also wrote, "Specific data about journalists and mental health is hard to come by. Research on the topic only began to pick up steam in the mid-1990s, and journalists are notoriously reluctant to divulge information about themselves.
"A 2001 study found that upwards of 85 percent experience work-related trauma. Other research shows that 4 to 28 percent suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder over the course of their careers, and up to 20 percent experience depression. Even when psychological symptoms like nightmares, flashbacks, insomnia and anxiety don’t rise to the level of a disorder, they still take a toll. . . ."
"Women and children often fare the worst during conflict and in refugee situations," Internews, an international nonprofit organization created to empower local media worldwide, says on its website.
"After the terrible earthquakes in Nepal this month, Viviane Fluck, who is conducting a post-earthquake humanitarian information assessment for Internews, noted that violence against women has been on the rise during the disaster. Fluck recommends leveraging Nepal's vibrant community radio sector to help mitigate this situation.
"On the other side of the world, in Chad, journalist Houda Malloum reported for a community radio station set up by Internews to serve refugees from Darfur. She focused an episode on the problem of attacks on Darfuri women and girls who were leaving the refugee camps to gather firewood. The episode helped alert local authorities to the problems of violence against women, and at the same time gave the women alternatives so that they could avoid areas where they might be attacked.
"Women's issues need to be heard so that humanitarian organizations can respond to their particular needs. Women journalists can help drive the debate beyond guns, troops and tents. Local women journalists can provide a better understanding of what women need to take better care of their families and safeguard themselves. . . ."
- International Center for Journalists: Pioneering Cuban Blogger, Indian Investigative Reporter Win Premier International Journalism Award
"Weeks after Trayvon Martin was killed in Sanford, Fla., in 2012, a Chicago police officer fatally shot an unarmed 22-year-old black woman in the head as he fired into a group in the early hours of a March morning,"Marcia Davis wrote Wednesday for the Washington Post.
"Not long after Michael Brown, 18, was killed in Ferguson, Mo., last summer, a 21-year-old black woman was found dead in a Pagedale, Mo., cell after being picked up on warrants over a dispute she allegedly had. She had hanged herself with her T-shirt, authorities said, adding that they had video because of cameras in the facility. The case is now closed.
"And in February, before Freddie Gray died from injuries sustained while in the custody of Baltimore police in April, a 37-year-old black female inmate just down the road in Fairfax County, Va., died several days after being shocked with a stun gun. At least six officers were present as the mentally ill woman — hands cuffed, feet shackled and head hooded in a spit mask — was Tasered four times. A medical examiner's ruling that 'excited delirium' was the cause of death has been controversial.
"Rekia Boyd. Kimberlee Randle-King. Natasha McKenna.
"Their names and their stories — as well as those of other black women who have been killed by police or died while in their custody — are the focus of several days of activity this week meant to highlight what some activists say has been missing from the national discussion on race and criminal justice: Black women are dying, too, not just black men. . . ."
Michael H. Cottman, BlackAmericaWeb.com: Black Cops: Part Of The Solution Or Part Of The Problem?
Courtland Milloy, Washington Post: Black women's lives matter, too, say the women behind the iconic hashtag
Leonard Pitts Jr., Miami Herald: Police brutality can't be fixed this way
- AJ Vicens and Jaeah Lee, Mother Jones: Here Are 13 Killings by Police Captured on Video in the Past Year(video)