Gun Violence: A Public Health Issue

A letter to UVA School of Medicine, originally distributed June 3, 2022.

As healthcare workers, our job is to heal and maintain health. And that’s why our hearts ache for the victims of the senseless and horrific mass shootings over the past three weeks. Gun violence is bigger than mass shootings, and, as caregivers, we experience it firsthand as we work to transform health and inspire hope.

Every day, hospitals and health systems around the country respond to injuries caused by gun violence. The collective impact is devastating. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released updated official mortality data that showed 45,222 firearm-related deaths in the United States in 2020. This is a new grisly peak, equating to about 124 people dying each day. And the victims are becoming younger, with guns becoming the leading cause of death among children and teens — more than motor vehicle crashes and drug overdoses.

Put simply, gun violence has a significant healthcare dimension and is directly counter to our four mission pillars. As clinicians, researchers, and students, we undoubtedly play a unique role in promoting health and saving human lives. So, I invite you to learn more about National Gun Violence Day and Wear Orange Weekend. I believe that together we can move forward to protect our children, families, and communities.

I know how challenging these past few weeks have been. I encourage you to continue to reach out to one another for comfort and support. Students who wish to speak with a counselor may walk in or call Counseling and Psychological Services at 434-243-5150 from 8:30am to 4:30pm (Monday through Friday). Students may also virtually meet with a counselor 24 hours a day, seven days a week, through the TimelyCare mobile app platform. Faculty, team members, residents, and fellows can find a similar resource through the Faculty and Employee Assistance Program by calling 434-243-2643. Anyone may also text HOME to 741741, and a live, trained counselor will receive the text and respond quickly.

Filed Under: Dean's Message, Featured