Yale doctoral student Kathleen O’Neill determined the number of people presenting at Emergency Departments at Yale New Haven, Hartford, Bridgeport and St. Francis hospitals for violence-related trauma increased by 55 percent between Jan. 1, 2018 and Jan.1, 2021 compared with the previous three years, according to her thesis “Improving Care for Survivors of Gun Violence,” which was released in 2021.
During that same period, emergency department visits from minorities with violence-related trauma increased by 61 percent and there was a 76 percent increase in penetration injuries, such as gunshots, O’Neill’s work concluded.
In 2021, Yale New Haven Hospital had 178 people come into the emergency department with gunshot wounds, with 15 fatalities. In the first six months of 2022, there were 73 gunshot victims with six fatalities- Nick Aysseh, manager of the Yale New Haven Center for Injury and Violence Prevention
“Gun violence can take many forms, including gun suicides and suicide attempts, gun homicides and assaults, domestic violence involving a gun, school shootings, shootings by police, and unintentional shootings, among other incidents. Identifying as a survivor of gun violence encompasses many different experiences: witnessing an act of gun violence, receiving threats with or being wounded by a gun, or having someone you know or care for wounded or killed with a gun.” – Everytown
Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund (“Everytown”) conducted a wide-ranging survey of more than 650 survivors from October to mid-November 2021. Here is a summary of their research:
- Nine out of 10 gun violence survivors report experiencing trauma from the incident.
- More than half of those who had experienced gun violence within the last 12 months were most likely to rate the impact of trauma as a 5 out of 5, meaning that trauma frequently affects their well-being and/or their functioning.
- Half of survivors reported that they experienced gun violence in a home: their own, a neighbor’s, a friend’s, or a family member’s.
- Nurses, doctors, and medical or hospital staff were the most likely to say they experienced the impact of gun violence through their work, followed by people who work at schools, including educators and staff.
- Two-thirds of survivors who were shot and wounded expressed the need for mental health services, therapy, and support. They also expressed the need for legal assistance as the victim of a crime (49 percent); financial assistance to deal with medical expenses such as physical therapy, rehabilitation services, and surgical equipment (40 percent); home health care (25 percent); and help covering funeral related expenses (7 percent).
- Nearly one in three survivors said that they needed legal assistance as a victim or for the death of a family member.
- One in three survivors said they needed financial support to help cover funeral costs or medical costs, or to make up for income lost because of death or injury.
“Living with a constant backdrop of gun violence leaves indelible marks on the memory that can alter the health, choices, and lifelong trajectory of children, young people, adults, and the collective community in serious and lasting ways. Pervasive community gun violence has a particularly devastating impact on children. Children and adolescents exposed to violence, crime, and abuse are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, suffer from depression, anxiety, and PTSD; fail or have difficulties in school; and engage in criminal activity.63 Stress related to community gun violence affects student performance and wellbeing in schools, from lower standardized test scores to more disciplinary problems.” – Everytown
Eli’s Garden of Healing is being created in memory of Elijah Gomez. A 15-year old Hamden High freshman who was murdered walking home from school on May 9, 2022. We believe that more access to greenspace in urban environments is one way to bring healing to our grieving community. While this garden brings an invitation to community members to reflect, recharge, or renew, it is critical that each visitor think about their overall well-being and care plan, including exploring support groups or professional help.