Audio by Amanda Le Claire
Firearm-related deaths among children in Arizona dramatically rose in 2012, according to a child fatality report, a press release from The American Academy of Pediatrics said.
The annual Child Fatality Review Report found that in 2012, there were 32 firearm-related deaths, compared to 23 in 2011. And, of these deaths, about 53 percent were suicides. In more than half of these cases, a parent was the gun owner, the press release said.
Arizona child deaths in general are on the rise, with motor vehicle crashes and drowning also as major contributors.
“If parents have guns in the home, that they keep them safely stored unloaded and locked with ammunition locked separately," said Dr. Eve Shapiro, a pediatrician here in Tucson. "As far as motor vehicle crashes…keeping kids restrained in cars is very important. And that was the major reason why children died in car accidents this past year.”
Such figures had declined since 2005 until this year. In 2012, 854 children died in the state, an increase from the 837 who died in 2011, the report found.
Drownings increased 2.2 per 100,000 children in 2012, from the 1.9 in 2011. However, the child suicide rate decreased from 2.4 per 100,000 children in 2011 to 1.7 in 2012.
After careful review by the child fatality team, 290 of the 854 deaths, or 34 percent, were considered preventable, including 79 percent of all deaths among 15-17 year olds, the press release said.
The report, which is on its 20th year, is published by the Arizona Department of Health Services on behalf of the Arizona Child Fatality Review Team, which aims to explore causes of child deaths and recommend how these can be prevented.
Amanda Le Claire contributed to this report.