CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Doctors, community advocates, and local leaders are coming together to promote firearm violence prevention.
On Friday, the Medical University of South Carolina’s Turning the Tide Violence Intervention Program hosted an event in honor of Wear Orange Day, a national campaign aimed at ending gun violence.
Members of local nonprofits like We are Their Voices participated in the event and shared stories on how gun violence has affected them. Tisa Whack started the organization after her 23-year-old son was killed in 2015.
“It’s been almost eight years since my son has been gone, yet the pain still feels like yesterday. So, when you see people out here supporting a cause like this, you feel like your child was not taken in vain—that something good could come out of it,” said Whack.
According to Dr. Ashley Hink, South Carolina has the fifth-highest firearm homicide rate in the United States.
Dr. Hink sees firsthand the effects of gun violence through her work as a trauma surgeon and violence researcher at MUSC. She said over the last two years, more children have come to MUSC with firearm-related injuries than ever before. As for adult firearm injuries, they have increased by 30-40%.
“Similar to what we see across the country, most victims of a firearm assault tend to be young men of color. So mostly young black men and teenagers,” said Dr. Hink. “It’s incredibly critical that we recognize the root causes of that and the risk factors and what we can do in our communities and at the policy level to help eliminate some of those risks.”
The doctor said 22% of firearm assaults are fatal. Turning the Tide is there to support the other 78% of survivors after they leave the hospital. According to Donnimechia Singleton, a client advocate for the program, they help victims with everything from finding employment to even getting them an ID if they don’t already have one.
“I’ve once lived that negative life, selling drugs, stuff like that. I made a change so I’m letting the young generation know you can do it too,” said Singleton.
Experts said gun violence is the leading cause of death for children and teens in the US.
Below are organizations and programs working to prevent gun violence: