ST. LOUIS – A day shy of Gun Violence Awareness Day, a 10-year-old died due to a self-inflicted gunshot wound. It’s a problem local leaders and frontline workers are saying they’re seeing too much of.
“We have like a two-minute warning that there’s a child that’s been shot, and then it’s really all hands on deck at that point, everyone stops what they’re doing,” said Dr. Kate Forrester, a physician in the Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital Emergency Department.
It’s a situation some frontline workers seen earlier on Thursday after a 10-year-old from the Jeff-Vander-Lou neighborhood endured a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
“You never forget what the kid looks like, you never forget the sound of their mother screaming,” Forrester said.
The incident unfolded around 11:30 a.m. near Brantner Place. The child was rushed to a nearby hospital, where he later died.
“If you haven’t experienced it for yourself, you can’t relate,” said Alderwoman Pam Boyd.
Her daughter was shot in both legs. Boyd said juvenile gunshot incidents are something she hears too much of in her north St. Louis ward, “it’s continuous.”
However, she isn’t the only one.
“I’ve seen way too many kids get a hold of a gun and shoot themselves or someone else, it’s just horrific,” Forrester said.
In the last three years, Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital has seen a major spike in similar situations.
So far, representatives with SSM Health said they’ve had 28 pediatric gunshot wound patients. Last year, 50 percent of those were reported as incidental, and around 50 percent were under the age of 5.
The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department hasn’t disclosed the identity of the child or adult male taken into custody at the scene.
Police say roughly 31 juveniles have been injured by gunfire this year. An alarming amount of children affected has Forrester voicing the need to take proper precautionary measures.
“A simple thing like a gun lock could have saved these children’s lives,” Forrester said.
Now, the organization is handing out 11,400 gun locks to SSM Health facilities in the region. The distribution will start on Friday, June 2, on National Gun Violence Awareness Day. They will be available in the emergency departments of the eight SSM Health St. Louis region hospitals.
Still, some local leaders feel the gun locks may not be enough.
“I want the legislatures to be listening loud and clear, how many do we have to bury before you say enough is enough?” Boyd said. “We have to take drastic measures to educate these kids on the impact of them finding a gun.”
Forrester agrees it needs to start in the schools.
“If we’re intervening at the elementary level, that’s at least a start,” she said.
Boyd said she plans on speaking with other city officials about how more gun awareness and gun prevention can be discussed in the St. Louis public school system.