A majority of surviving victims of the March 1995 sarin gas attack, for which members of the Aum Shinrikyo cult stand accused, still suffer from physical problems as well as posttraumatic stress disorder, a police survey released Thursday shows.
It was the first survey by government authorities on the various aftereffects still tormenting victims of the attack, in which 12 people were killed and thousands others sickened by the deadly nerve gas released on Tokyo subways during rush hour.
The Metropolitan Police Department last year polled about 5,300 people who had reported being affected by the 1995 incident, 1,247 of them responded by August. “Many of the victims apparently were unable to answer the survey because it was too painful for them to remember the incident,” an MPD official said.
All together, more than 70 percent of the respondents said they still suffer from some psychological aftereffects, including PTSD and increased use of alcohol or sleeping pills.
PTSD involves psychological disorders, including nightmares and flashbacks, that plague victims who experienced serious psychological shock resulting from crime, natural disasters or accidents.
In a multiple choice survey, 54 percent of the respondents complained of bodily problems that they believe were caused by the nerve gas attack, while 56.7 percent cited some sort of psychological problems, according to the MPD.
As for physical problems, four out of five respondents said they experienced vision problems just after the incident. About 33 percent said that to this day they tend to have strained eyes, while 26 percent reported that their eyesight has diminished.
While 9.6 percent said they still suffer from headaches, 7.5 percent complained of heart disorders, the survey showed.
As for psychological aftereffects, 18.4 percent said they are paranoid they might someday suffer a similar incident, 17.5 percent said they get sudden flashbacks of the scene of the crime and 7.4 percent complained of suffering from recurring nightmares.