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U.S. News & World Report: Spike in Gun-Related Suicides Alarms Pediatricians

By Ruben Castaneda

Pediatricians and emergency department physicians are alarmed at the growing number of children, mostly adolescents, who are taking their lives with firearms. While mass school shootings like the attack last February that killed 17 students and staff members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, generate headlines and public debate about the easy availability of firearms, suicides by gun claim far more children's lives.

Gunshot wounds annually kill nearly 1,300 children ages 17 and younger, according to a study published in July 2017 in the journal Pediatrics. Of this total, 38 percent – nearly 500 kids – died by suicide, according to the research, while 53 percent lost their lives in homicides. 

Firearm injuries are now the second leading cause of death for children age 10 and older and teens (up to age 19) in the U.S. after motor vehicle fatalities, says Dr. M. Denise Dowd, a pediatric emergency physician at Children's Mercy Kansas City in Kansas City, Missouri.

"Suicides (by juveniles) are at epidemic proportions," Dowd says. "It's an emergency. If this was an infectious disease, it would be on the news constantly until we got a handle on it."

The widespread availability of firearms, the natural curiosity and impulsivity of young children and adolescents and the widespread lack of supervision of kids in homes where adults keep unsecured firearms creates "a perfect storm for tragedy," Dowd says. 


Read the full story via U.S. News and World Report

Learn more about the Center for Childhood Safety at Children's Mercy