Interviews with more than 500 surviving family members and first responders of the Sept. 11 attacks reveal a devastatingly emotional five-year journey as children recount the loss of parents, and adults discuss lives without spouses and colleagues.
The interviews, conducted by the World Trade Center Family Center of South Nassau Communities Hospital on Long Island, N.Y., provide a rare glimpse into the thoughts of those personally affected by the Sept. 11 disaster.
Drs. Minna Barrett and Thomas Demaria say they used standardized screening techniques to interview 330 first rescue and recovery workers who participated in an outreach and counseling program. Interviews began in 2002 and ran through this year.
Children who suffered a loss were interviewed by the center's mental health experts between last September and February. The 70 youngsters ranged from age 4 to 18. Among the findings:
42 percent of children rated by themselves or a parent report performing below expectation in school.
36 percent of children report subclinical levels of separation anxiety.
34 percent of children rated by parents as suffering from post-traumatic stress.
25 percent report problematic child-parent relationships.
25 percent of parents said their children had poor self-reliance.
20 percent of children reported general anxiety.
Nevertheless, children affected by Sept. 11 said they have developed several strengths as a result of the disaster, according to the center's report. For example, 75 percent stated they could discuss feelings of loneliness and anxiety with their parents, while another 55 percent mentioned positive sibling relationships. Statistics that were culled from interviews with firefighters, police officers and other first responders included:
65 percent of Sept. 11 responders rank their health as good to poor; only 33 percent who say their health is very good or excellent.
60 percent say they aren't sure if their health will worsen.
42 percent reporting the lingering impact of Sept. 11 rescue and recovery work has been severe to extremely severe.