Study Reveals Startling Impact of Firearms on Child Survivors in the U.S.

New York City, New York – In 2024, firearms have emerged as the primary cause of child deaths in the United States. A recent study conducted by Northwell Health in partnership with Stacker has shed light on the impact of nonfatal firearm injuries on young survivors, highlighting the urgent need for further research in this area.

For years, research on gun violence was stifled by the Dickey Amendment, which restricted funding for such studies. However, with daily statistics showing that 120 people die from firearms and over 200 are injured in the U.S., it is evident that more research is essential. Unfortunately, the lack of national data on nonfatal gun violence injuries in the country makes studies challenging.

While mass shootings often dominate the news, they represent only a fraction of all gun-related fatalities, including suicide, community violence, domestic violence, intimate partner violence, and hate crimes. Disturbingly, research has shown that nearly 1 million women in the U.S. have been victims of intimate partner violence involving firearms.

Studies have revealed that survivors of firearm injuries, particularly children and adolescents, experience a myriad of physical and mental health issues. From increased pain disorders to substance use disorders, the consequences of such traumatic events extend beyond the individual to their families as well.

Experts have emphasized that the nature of the violence, whether interpersonal or self-inflicted, plays a crucial role in determining the type of behavioral health care needed for survivors. Prolonged stays in intensive care units following gun violence incidents can result in additional physical, cognitive, and psychiatric symptoms, necessitating ongoing healthcare support.

The psychological impact of gun violence on survivors can manifest in various ways, including anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and hypervigilance. Many survivors live in constant fear and exhibit anticipatory stress reactions when exposed to triggers that remind them of the violence they endured.

Accessing adequate care for survivors remains a challenge, with many facing barriers due to lack of insurance coverage. Studies have shown that a significant percentage of nonfatally injured children do not receive mental health services within six months of the incident, highlighting disparities in care based on ethnicity and socioeconomic status.

Overall, the findings of the Health Affairs study underscore the profound and lasting effects of firearm injuries on survivors and their families. By delving into the complexities of gun violence and its aftermath, researchers hope to ignite a national conversation on the need for comprehensive support systems for survivors and victims alike.