Many seafarer victims of piracy have PTSD, says new study

/ 12:57 AM July 13, 2016

Up to 25 percent of seafarers taken hostage by Somali pirates show signs of post-traumatic stress disorder. WIKIPEDIA

SAN FRANCISCO – A new report says that most seafarers who have been held hostage by sea pirates do not exhibit lasting effects of the experience on their physical and mental health, but up to 25 percent of former hostages show signs of post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD, the same condition seen in soldiers who were deployed to war zones.

Somali pirates have held hostage more than 3,000 seafarers since 2001 and an unknown number have been kidnapped in other parts of the world while up to 40 are still being held in captivity, according to an article in


The article covers a new report by Oceans Beyond Piracy and One Earth Future, both programs of the One Earth Future Foundation, which explores the long-term impact of piracy on seafarer and family recovery.

The findings are based on a series of interviews and surveys of 465 seafarers in three major seafaring countries — India, the Philippines and Ukraine – and included former hostages, 364 non-hostages and 38 family members of seafarers.

The report’s key findings include:

  • Some 25 percent of former hostages have symptoms consistent with post-traumatic stress disorder and are at higher risk of having poor overall wellbeing. Only hostage experiences are linked to a significantly increased risk of PTSD.
  • Being held hostage, more than any other type of piracy experience, leads to lasting effects because seafarers are exposed to different types stress, from the tensions of passing through the high-risk areas to actually being attacked.
  • The maritime environment is dangerous, and seafarers are regularly exposed to traumatic experiences other than piracy.
  • Seafarers with higher levels of post-traumatic stress symptoms are more likely to think about piracy when taking contracts, and more likely to have declined a job due to piracy risk.
  • Families of hostages can have problems getting information about their loved ones, and many suffer lasting distress. A large minority of the family members of hostages show lasting behavioral effects from their experiences.
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TAGS: mental and physical effects of pirate hostage experience on seafarers, negative effects of hostage experience on seafarers, Oceans Beyond Piracy, One Earth Future, One Earth Future Foundation, post-traumatic distress syndrome or PTSD, study of effects of piracy on seafarers
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