Children's Wisconsin saw spike in gunshot wounds, deaths in 2020

Calling attention to an epidemic, numbers from Children's Wisconsin show, in 2020, the hospital treated 79 children with gunshot wounds -- more than double the number of patients treated in 2019.

The hospital calls 2020 a painful year of trauma and gun violence. It is starting a conversation in hopes of finding a solution to a very complex problem.

While Children's Wisconsin staff navigated the global COVID-19 pandemic, trauma program manager Kristin Braun said another issue was catching their attention.

"There is a problem, and it’s not normal," Braun said of the gunshot wound rise. "If we don’t get a better handle on it things could get worse."

Children's Wisconsin gunshot wound data

Sadly, six of those lives could not be saved. The hospital has never treated that many deaths from gunshot wounds in one year.

According to a Children's Wisconsin blog post, the rise in shooting victims appeared after schools started to close in the spring and children were home more often. To date, no studies show a direct connection between the uptick in violence and the pandemic.

Children's Wisconsin gunshot wound data

"The majority of the gunshot wounds we did see are from violent-related injuries," said Braun.

Health officials said a mental health crisis is a contributing factor. According to the blog, the hospital put a focus on mental and behavioral health in the past year. It is pushing for solutions as quickly as possible.

Children's Wisconsin

"There is not one answer to this, and there is not going to be one solution to this," Brain said.

Unfortunately, numbers in 2021 are not showing any improvement. So far, the hospital has treated 13 children for gunshot injuries -- double what it saw at the same time in 2020.

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