Forensics and Mental Health

I found some numbers in an article about the various types of media that a forensic analyst may find themselves dealing with in terms of what we would normally consider pretty disturbing cases. I think what they show most of all, is that this work is terribly difficult to do on a daily basis.

The survey also asked about analysts’ stress when dealing with different case types, such as suicides, rapes, homicides, torture, animal abuse, child abuse and elder abuse. Video evidence of child abuse was found to be stressful to more respondents than any other evidence type (92 percent), but videos of torture (86 percent), images and audio of elder abuse (84 and 83 percent), and audio and video of police shootings (79 and 80 percent) were also stressful to a large majority of respondents. The results also showed that listening to someone dying was stressful to more respondents (80 percent) than watching a video (75 percent) or looking at images (66 percent) of the same.

The work being done by these folks is a vital part of our criminal justice system. In civil eDiscovery we occasionally get a glimpse of some disturbing information, or even images, but it’s nothing compared to what these folks see every single day. They deserve our praise, and more importantly, they deserve support for their mental health while doing this type of work instead of being stigmatized for being too weak to handle it. Trust me, the vast majority of us would be much weaker than they are.

It’s far better to get them support than to not have anyone doing this work.

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