270355 Traumatic loss as a turning point: A qualitative analysis of young, Black men's experiences of peer homicide across the life course

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Jocelyn Smith, LGMFT , Department of Family Science, University of Maryland, College Park, College Park, MD
Violence, trauma, and loss are salient experiences in the lives of young, Black men. Homicide is the leading cause of death for Black males ages 10-34 (CDC, 2011), threatening mortality across multiple developmental periods. Disparities in homicide rates also place Black males at disproportionate risk for experiencing a traumatic loss. Although previous research has examined the impact of exposure to violence on outcomes including academic achievement, anxiety, and depression among Black youth (Fitzpatrick, 1993, Jones, 2007), limited previous research has explored how the traumatic loss of a loved one shapes the lives of low-income, young Black men (Morin & Welsh, 1996; Way, 1998). To address this gap, in-depth interviews were conducted with young, Black men in a major urban center in the Middle Atlantic region (n = 30; ages 18-24) to explore the process, context, and meaning young Black men construct about experiences of loss across the life course. A modified grounded theory approach, including the technique of constant comparison, was used and the data were coded in three waves: open, axial, and selective. Data analysis revealed peer deaths to be key turning points for young, Black men. In particular, the frequency (e.g. number of losses) and timing of losses (e.g. developmental period) shaped the mental, behavioral, and relational health of young, Black men. Young men also described how the traumatic death of peers contributed to their connections to school and work across the life course. Implications for researchers, programmers, policy-makers and practitioners working with young, Black men are discussed.

Learning Areas:
Diversity and culture
Other professions or practice related to public health
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences
Systems thinking models (conceptual and theoretical models), applications related to public health

Learning Objectives:
Identify traumatic loss as a salient experience across the life course among young, Black men Explain how traumatic loss of peers to homicide serves as turning point in the lives of young, Black men Discuss the implications of key findings for researchers, community programmers, and health professionals working with young Black men.

Keywords: Youth Violence, Death

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I have expertise in qualitative research and have extensive experience working with African American youth and families.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.