Everybody dies in the summer. Want to say your goodbyes, tell them while it’s spring. I heard everybody’s dying in the summer, so pray to God for a little more spring.
Explore This IssueACEP Now: Vol 41 – No 07 – July 2022
These are the words of Chicago native Chancellor Bennet, also known as Chance the Rapper. He wrote these lyrics while he was just a high school student on the south side of Chicago.
In this hidden track on his adolescent mixtape, he depicts the realities faced by an inner-city child in low-income areas of many American cities. Summer is here and for many of us it’s our favorite season. Summer is a joyous time for the vast majority of our country: filled with beaches, sand, playing sports, and relaxing outdoors with friends and family. However, in some parts of America, summer is a season that is feared. It’s a time when violence rings out throughout the neighborhoods, when loved ones are lost and children are killed.
All throughout the United States we see the effects of gun-related injuries and deaths play out on the screens in our homes and on our personal devices. As a society we’ve become grossly desensitized and burned out by the habitual exposure to violence in media. Most of society has the privilege to remove the unwanted stimulus by changing the channel or scrolling past whatever harrowing event is in the headlines of the day, but this is not an option for us as emergency physicians. As emergency physicians, we will always be on the receiving end of tragedy.
When analyzing gun violence, the United States ranks number one in comparison to other high-income countries for the degree of gun-related deaths and injuries. Each year, over 40,000 Americans are killed due to gun-related injuries. About two thirds of these deaths are due to suicide and about one third are due to homicide. When we observe populations affected, what we find is that victims of suicide are mostly middle-aged white men, while victims of homicide are mostly young Black men.1,2 In fact, in Chicago where I work, 75 percent of the city’s gun-related deaths are in young Black males age 18–24 years old. This disparate distribution of injuries mirrors those seen in many urban environments in our country. Nationally, 60 percent of firearm homicide victims in the United States are Black Americans; however, Black Americans account for less than 15 percent of the population.3 In comparison with white men, Black men are 18 times more likely to suffer from gun-related assaults and 10 times more likely to die from gun-related homicide.2