Australian Story on ABC – Foreign correspondent Dean Yates had a reputation for being indestructible.
His employer, international newsagency Reuters, depended on his ability to keep calm while covering traumatic events including the Bali bombing, Aceh’s tsunami and Israel’s war with Lebanon.
“I just thought I could handle everything,” Dean says. “When you’re able to perform at a high level under extreme pressure for a long period of time, there’s the evidence, right? I am unbreakable.”
But Dean’s intrepid reporting came at a personal cost and his own family became collateral damage.
When two of his Baghdad staff were gunned down by American soldiers in 2007, Dean’s robust exterior began to crumble.
“I felt responsible for their safety, and I failed to protect them”, Dean says.
In the years after Wikileaks ‘Collateral Murder’ video exposed the truth about the men’s death, Dean’s mental health continued to deteriorate, and his family bore the brunt of his mood swings.
“He lost his temper over small things like a door banging or a dog barking,” wife Mary Binks remembers of that time. “And he’d go to bed for days on end.”
He finally found help in a psychiatric facility and was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and a “moral injury”, the harm caused when there’s a moral dimension to a person’s trauma.
After years of struggle, Dean finally came to understand the extent to which he had no control over what happened to his staff, Namir Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh.
“It was at that moment that I could just feel this weight starting to lift”, Dean says.
“For now, the house is at peace,” son Patrick says. “There’s been a ceasefire.”
Dean is now determined to share his experience of PTSD in the workplace to raise awareness and bring about a permanent change in attitudes.
Australian Story – Monday 11 September, 2023 at 8:00pm on ABC and ABC iview
Media Release – ABC
TV Central ABC content HERE