On Thursday, November 18th, green lights will illuminate Seattle and twenty-five other major cities across the country to illuminate the need for violence and injury prevention. Injuries, whether they are intentional or unintentional, are leading causes of death for people ages 1-44 in the United States and in King County. Unintentional injuries include traffic crashes and drowning. Intentional injuries include violence inflicted on others as well as oneself.
Over the past ten years in King County, deaths from unintentional injuries among children, youth and young adults ages 18 and younger have remained steady: 79 in 2010-2014 and 70 in 2015-2019. However, deaths from assault and self-inflicted injuries among this age group have fluctuated between 60 in 2010-2014 and 78 in 2015-2019.
“The overall burden of injury in King County is disturbing,” said Shannon Murphy of Public Health’s Violence & Injury Prevention Team and a University of Washington student. “Even more concerning are the racial and ethnic disparities in injury that disproportionately burden American Indian, Alaskan Native, and Black residents. For example, Black Americans are disproportionately impacted by gun violence. They experience 10 times the gun homicides, 18 times the gun assault injuries and nearly 3 times the fatal police shootings of white Americans.”
Over the past five years, the total number of vehicular crashes in King County has dropped each year, from 42,000 in 2016 to 24,000 in 2020. “Reducing the threat of distracted driving and making our roads safer is something about which 95% of King County adults agree,” said Rebecca Lis, Target Zero Manager at Public Health.
Firearm related injuries
Related to firearm concerns, one-in-five adults in King County says they keep firearms in or around their home, and only about half say they store their firearms locked up. Storing firearms locked up prevents unintentional injuries, suicide, violence, and theft. “The safest method to store firearms is unloaded with ammunition locked separately” said Karyn Brownson, manager of King County’s Lock It Up program. “Locking up these items and keeping them separate protects all of our families and communities.”
In King County, local groups, residents and city and county officials are driving solutions to reduce gun violence and increase safety in their communities, but data and resources are needed to support these efforts.
“We are fortunate to have so many partners and programs in the region addressing violence and injury prevention, and I expect we’ll continue to make progress,” said Dennis Worsham, Interim Director for Public Health – Seattle & King County. “Addressing the disparities of violence and injury prevention is a priority for me and our department.”
For more information
Reducing firearms-related injuries and promoting traffic safety are two priorities for Public Health as well as many others in the community. The Violence & Injury Prevention team works with partners for policy change, data reviews, leadership, and community education, among other strategies.
- For more information on violence and injury prevention efforts at Public Health, visit the website.
- To learn more about National Injury Prevention Day, check out the Injury Free Coalition for Kids.
- Together We Get There and Juntos Llegamos has information about Washington Traffic Safety Commission’s systematic approach to improving safety across our state (available in Spanish and English).
- For other work from area partners, please see Harborview Injury Prevention & Research Center and Seattle Children’s Hospital Health and Safety.
- Lock it Up provides detailed, multilingual information about why and how to lock up firearms at home. The program partners with firearm retailers, law enforcement agencies, shooting sports facilities, and community-based organizations to get the word out. For more information, see the program’s website at King County Safe Storage of Firearms (brochure also available in Spanish: SENCILLA. SEGURA).
- Zero Youth Detention addresses gun violence in King County. Learn more at the ZYD website
- For national violence and injury prevention see www.safestates.org and help elevate the recommendations found in the Blueprint for a National Injury and Violence Prevention Program and advocate for a fair system that supports all states and territories.
Originally published 11/17/2021.