The number of gunshot wounds treated at St. Louis Children’s hospital has fluctuated over time, but the volume has become more consistent in recent years and has done so at elevated levels.
The hospital treated at least 78 gun injuries in 2018. That figure includes only patients who were admitted and not those with minor injuries treated in the emergency room and released.
It marked a decrease from the 86 GSWs in 2017. But since 2015, Children’s has seen a 64 percent increase in patients with gun injuries. From 2011 to 2014 there were 199 gun injuries; from 2015 to 2018 there were 326.
The trend has followed that of increased homicides in the city during the same period as well as record numbers in St. Louis County, which does not include the city.
In December, there were two especially troubling cases in St. Louis. In one incident, a 2-year-old found a 9 mm pistol in his father's backpack and fired a shot that struck him in the arm and then grazed his 7-year-old brother's head. A week later, a 6-year-old girl was accidentally shot and killed by an older brother, who found a gun in their house while their parents attended a party.
When I started researching “Under the Gun,” the numbers were starting to taper after the records that were set from 2006 to 2008. Thankfully, SLCH is not coming close to the years of treating 111 gun injuries, but the recent pattern along with more young victims is alarming.
Since 2005, SLCH has seen 1,077 patients injured by guns, which is a stunning number for a children’s hospital. In the St. Louis area, a child or teen has been shot at a rate of more than one every other day since 2005.
SLCH continues to accept patients to the age of 21 and sometimes sees victims of gun injuries who are older.