Report details firearm injuries

Published 4:28 pm Friday, July 29, 2022

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) says that the number of emergency department visits for firearm injuries increased 72% from 2018 to 2021.

These statistics come from a newly introduced data dashboard on firearm injuries from 2016 to 2022 in the Commonwealth.

The dashboard shows the number of emergency room visits and injuries caused by firearms. It is organized by year, health district, age group, gender, race and ethnicity throughout Virginia.

In the Piedmont Health District, the VDH dashboard shows 26 firearm-related injuries halfway through 2022, which Piedmont Health District Director Dr. Maria Almond said also might indicate an increased injury rate for this year.

“Firearm-related injury and fatalities are an increasing public health emergency in the United States and Virginia,” Dr. Almond said. “While the numbers of gun-related injuries and fatalities are more limited compared to our urban neighbors, each of those affected is an individual whose life is forever changed or a family that now faces unthinkable loss. And in our small communities, we feel the repercussions of every death. We call it a public health emergency because there are ways to prevent these increasingly frequent injuries and fatalities from firearms. Action needs to be taken and requires multiple people  — ED (emergency department) healthcare workers, gun owners, mental health professionals, policymakers, emergency services — at the table to determine what will work for our community to limit this violence.”

In addition to the Firearm Injury report, data from the County Health Rankings on Firearm Fatalities show totals from 2016-2020.

Fatalities are counted in the deceased’s county of residence, not where the death occurred.

If no data was reported, then fatalities were lower than 10.

Amelia: 18

Buckingham: 10

Charlotte: 11

Cumberland: no data reported

Lunenburg: 15

Nottoway: no data reported

Prince Edward: 15

For comparison, the data below shows motor vehicle accidents resulting in fatality for the same time period of 2016-2000:

Amelia: 23

Buckingham: 35

Charlotte: 25

Cumberland: no data

Lunenburg: 13

Nottoway: no data

Prince Edward: 29

According to the VDH, firearm deaths continue to be a significant and growing public health problem in the United States. In 2020, 79% of all homicides and 53% of all suicides involved firearms. From 2019 to 2020, the firearm homicide rate increased by about 35%, and the firearm suicide rate stayed high. The firearm homicide rate in 2020 was the highest recorded in more than 25 years.

The 2020 VDH Medical Examiner Annual Report 2020 shows that gun-related fatalities continue to be one of Virginia’s top three methods of unnatural death since 2007.

Generally, the number of gun-related suicides slowly increases each year, and since 2012, gun-related homicides have slowly increased.

According to the report, in 2020, gun-related deaths of all manners increased by 15.3% compared to 2019 The majority (59.4%) of gun-related deaths were due to suicide.