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Home News Public Health Emergency Report reveals alarming firearm injury trends in New Mexico

Public Health Emergency Report reveals alarming firearm injury trends in New Mexico

September 28, 2023 - Injury Prevention - Information

SANTA FE — Today, the New Mexico Department of Health unveiled the "Comprehensive Report on Gunshot Victims Presenting at Hospitals in New Mexico." Spanning from 1999 to 2023, this report illustrates the concerning rise in firearm-related violent deaths and injuries in the state.

The report was issued as a direct response to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s September Executive Order 2023-0130, declaring a public health emergency due to gun violence. 

"The findings of this report are clear: New Mexico faces an urgent firearm-related injury crisis,” said Patrick Allen, Secretary for the DOH. "The alarming surge in firearm-related injuries and deaths revealed in this report demands our immediate attention. We must work together as a community to implement effective interventions that will save lives and reduce the economic burden on our healthcare system."  

The report's key findings underscore the urgency of addressing this issue: 

Youth Vulnerability to Gun Violence: New Mexican residents ages 18-29 and 30-49 face a disproportionately high risk of firearm injury Emergency Department (ED) visits, with a noticeable surge in firearm-related ED visits among children aged 0-17, particularly those aged 14-17.  

Increase in Firearm-Related Deaths: New Mexico's firearm death rates have surged, making it the third-highest in the nation in 2021, with an 87% increase in age-adjusted firearm death rates from 2010 to 2021. 

Demographic and Geographic Disparities: Men of all age groups face the highest risk for firearm-related injuries and deaths. Racial and ethnic disparities have also emerged, with significant increases in firearm injury death rates among Non-Hispanic American Indian, Non-Hispanic Black, and Hispanic populations. 

Increased Severity of Health Outcomes: Patients admitted to intensive care for firearm injuries increased by 16%, and patients transferred from the emergency department to the operating room rose by 61% between 2019 and 2022. 

Significant Increase in Alcohol and Substance Use: Alcohol and non-alcoholic substance dependence are contributing factors to firearm-related deaths, with sharp increases seen in homicides and suicides involving firearms. 

Lack of Safe Storage: A lack of safe firearm storage practices is prevalent, with many households having loaded and unlocked firearms, particularly those with children under 18 years old. 

Rising Economic Impact: The economic impact of firearm injuries on New Mexico's healthcare system is substantial, with an estimated societal cost of $6 billion or $2818 per capita. Medicaid claims for firearm injuries have surged, reaching $5.6 million between January and September 2023. 

José A. Acosta, MD, MBA, MPH, a former Navy trauma surgeon and the leader of the report compilation team at the New Mexico Department of Health, emphasized, "As a team, we dedicated ourselves to meticulously compiling and analyzing the data presented in this report. The findings are a call to action for all New Mexicans, policymakers, and healthcare professionals. Together, we can forge a path toward safer communities, better healthcare outcomes, and a brighter future for our state. This report should serve as a catalyst for change and inspire collaborative efforts to address the complex challenges posed by firearm-related injuries in New Mexico."  

The full report, "Comprehensive Report on Gunshot Victims Presenting at Hospitals in New Mexico," is available on the New Mexico Department of Health website. 

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El Informe de Emergencias de Salud Pública revela alarmantes tendencias de lesiones por arma de fuego en Nuevo México