St. Louis Department of Health Commemorates National Gun Violence Awareness Day

Wear Orange Weekend encourages participants to raise awareness about impact of gun violence

June 4, 2021 | 2 min reading time

Today is National Gun Violence Awareness Day and this weekend is Wear Orange Weekend. These annual observances offer an opportunity to unite to honor gun violence victims and stand up, speak out, and wear orange to raise awareness about gun violence as work is done to build, and continue, momentum towards a future free of gun violence.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified firearm injuries in the United States as a serious public health problem. In 2019, there were 39,707 gun related deaths in the country which equates to an average of 109 deaths each day. The June 2, 2021, St. Louis Metropolitan Police District Unified Crime Report notes that so far this year, there have been 78 firearm-related homicides involving 95 guns in St. Louis.

"We must treat gun violence like the public health crisis it is,” said Mayor Tishaura O. Jones. “I'm wearing orange today to highlight the devastating impact gun violence has on families and communities throughout St. Louis. Elected leaders need to step up across political divides and find the courage to pass the commonsense safety laws we need to get guns off our streets."

Since 2015, orange has been the adopted color of the movement to prevent gun violence. The color was worn by friends of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton to honor her after she was shot and killed one week after performing at President Obama’s second inaugural parade in 2013. The first Wear Orange Weekend was organized on June 2, 2015, and takes place the first Friday in June each year.

“We know that gun violence not only effects the victims but extends to their families and the community at-large,” says Dr. Fredrick Echols, acting Director of Health for the City of St. Louis. “Gun violence negatively impacts our sense of safety and security and can include long term problems associated with memory, thinking, emotions, physical disability from brain injury; paralysis from injury to the spinal cord; and chronic mental health problems from conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder.

The City of St. Louis Department of Health oversees the city’s Cure Violence Initiative which operates in targeted areas in the Dutchtown, Walnut Park, Wells-Goodfellow and Hamilton Heights neighborhoods. Cure Violence works to reduce violence globally using an evidence-based public health approach for disease control and behavior change. Early results of Cure Violence efforts in the City are promising.

The Department of Health compiles data to assist in informed decision making related to gun violence reduction in the city and also helps promote and develop collaborative partnerships to comprehensively address gun violence.

Join Mayor Tishaura O. Jones and the Department of Health in wearing orange this weekend to create awareness about gun violence and to honor gun violence victims.

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