In a recent address, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner speculated a rise in the city’s murder rate in the latter part of 2017 could be due to post-traumatic stress suffered by victims of Hurricane Harvey.
Houston reportedly recorded 269 homicides in 2017, a lower number than each of the previous two years and a decline of more than 10 percent.
Turner credited Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo for a lower murder rate throughout 2017 at a recent press conference.
However, he also pointed out a sharp increase in the homicide rate toward the end of the year:
“From September through December 2017, there were 104 murders in the city compared to 91 during the same period in 2016, representing a nearly 15 percent increase,” Turner said during a press conference.
Turner said he ordered an investigation into the spike in the murder rate; he also said he called on Harris County officials to cooperate with the investigation and determine if the same issues have had an impact on a wider scope:
“The departments working on this include police, fire, as well as health,” he said further. “We’re also reaching out to Harris County Health, mental health and the sheriff’s department.”
Turner additionally said the city will request additional funds from state and federal agencies to strengthen mental health resources, including those dedicated to treating and preventing post-traumatic stress disorders in storm victims:
“(I’ve) tasked my staff with pulling together all pertinent data, which can document this additional challenge to our already taxed services.”
A series of studies on hurricane victims reportedly determined many of them suffer from anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress after a violent storm.
During 2012, the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry found nearly half the survivors of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 suffered some type of mental illness.
Another study on Superstorm Sandy survivors found one-in-five people reported PTSD, one-in-three reported depression and nearly half reported anxiety after the event.
If you or someone you know needs help in dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, there are places in Houston you can call.