Mohave County
May 2024
Volume 24 Issue 3

Dec 2023 | December 2023

Rising tide of gun violence among Arizona youth: Call for action on firearm safety and mental health

December 2023

December 2023

ARIZONA — Firearms have become the leading cause of death among Arizona’s youth, particularly in the age group of 15 to 17 years. Recent incidents highlight a disturbing trend of increasing gun violence in the state. For instance, in just one month, Arizona witnessed the tragic loss of teenagers Joshua Carter, Hailey Stephens, Jemiere Jenkins, and Marc Leyva to gun violence. Another incident in a West Phoenix mobile home park resulted in the death of a teen boy and injuries to two others​​.
The Gun Violence Archive reports that over 1,200 teenagers have been killed by guns in the U.S. this year, with more than 3,600 injuries. This trend is part of a broader pattern of escalating aggression and violence observed over the past few years​​. Child psychologist Michael Klinkner notes an increase in violence among teenagers, correlating with heightened levels of suicide attempts, anxiety, and depression, particularly during certain times of the year​​.
In Arizona, firearms have been identified as the primary cause of death for teens aged 15-17, surpassing other causes​​. This grim statistic is supported by recent events, including the deaths of several 17-year-olds in the Valley due to gunfire. The Arizona Department of Health Services and other organizations are increasingly concerned about the epidemiology of firearm violence, recognizing the urgent need for policy interventions to address this crisis​​​​.
The issue of youth access to firearms in the home is a significant factor in these incidents. A national survey revealed startling access levels, with more than one-third of adolescents (ages 13 to 17) reporting they could access a loaded firearm in their home within five minutes, and half within an hour​​​​. This access is often underestimated by parents, with 30% admitting their children could access guns at home. The implications of this easy access are profound, particularly considering the increased likelihood of successful suicide attempts when firearms are readily available​​​​.
Matt Miller, a Northeastern University researcher, has highlighted that handgun owners are nearly four times more likely to die by suicide compared to those without guns. This correlation is particularly significant given that suicide is the second-leading cause of death among individuals under 35 in the United States​​. The American Public Health Association recognizes gun violence as a leading cause of premature death in the U.S., with over 43,000 deaths in 2020, including more than 24,000 suicides​​.
The challenge is exacerbated by the lack of discussion about firearm safety in medical settings, even among families with children and firearms in the home. This gap highlights the need for a public health approach to gun safety, where prevention and awareness are prioritized​​.
The escalation in youth gun violence in Arizona and the disturbing ease of firearm access at home necessitate urgent and effective policy responses. The consistent increase in firearm-related deaths among teenagers points to a multifaceted crisis, encompassing public health, mental health, and gun safety issues. Interventions must focus on restricting easy access to firearms in homes, improving mental health support for young people, and fostering broader awareness of firearm safety. Addressing these complex issues demands collaborative efforts from public health authorities, policymakers, educators, and communities to create a safer environment for Arizona’s youth.
As the state grapples with this alarming trend, it becomes clear that a comprehensive approach, blending policy reform, education, and community engagement, is crucial to mitigate the risks and prevent further tragedies. The ultimate goal should be to ensure that the youth of Arizona can grow and thrive in a safe and supportive environment, free from the threat of gun violence.

Jeremy Webb

Based in Mohave Valley, Arizona, Jeremy Webb is a dedicated website designer and developer with a keen eye for detail. Transitioning from a background in retail sporting goods management, he now crafts digital spaces that resonate with audiences. Beyond the screen, Jeremy is a passionate writer, delving into topics ranging from business innovations and Arizona’s unique landscapes to the latest tech trends and compelling local narratives. Visit his website at JeremyWebb.Dev

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