WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (WGHP) — Conversations about gun violence usually center around homicides, but six out of every 10 gun deaths in the United States are suicides.
A group in Winston-Salem held a panel to bring awareness to the issue Friday night.
In North Carolina, 832 people on average die by gun suicide every year. Data from the State Health Department shows it’s the second leading cause of death among kids ages 10 to 18.
The Winston-Salem group wants to take away the stigma and give people a space to have open discussions about the gun violence happening in our community.
“A lot of times suicide is taboo,” said Tremona Purvis, a panelist at the event. “We don’t talk about suicide. We don’t even talk about mental illness. Those are things that are pushed under the rug.”
Purvis has a mission to make sure suicide and mental illness are conversations people don’t shy away from.
Data from the CDC shows in 2020, an estimated 12.2 million American adults seriously thought about suicide, 3.2 million planned a suicide attempt and 1.2 million attempted suicide.
As for teenagers, about one in three high school girls in the U.S. has considered committing suicide.
“If a teen or young adult is mentioning and not wanting to be here, that is something that we cannot laugh off,” Purvis said. “We need to take it seriously, and we need to act on it.”
Purvis participated in a panel speaking to a crowd of nearly 50 people at the Enterprise Conference Center in Winston-Salem about different types of gun violence.
“We ain’t always got to be the gun to your head, the mood, the action that you got, taking whatever activity that you do and join the gangs, whatever may be, it’s a form of suicide,” said Artemus Peterson, who helped organize the event.
Organizers said gun violence is a type of suicidal action.
“Not only is the life being taken from the victim, but the person that commits the crime, their life is gone as well,” said Shantae Graham, an organizer.
This group wants the community to come together and figure out a way to motivate others to put the guns down.
“I see so much in the schools that our children are lacking mentors…and it’s like as the years have progressed, our children are becoming lost and for the community to get together and to rally together to help our children, to help our youth, to help our young men and women, even adult men and women, it’s a big impact,” Purvis said.
Friday night’s panel was the second in a series, and it won’t be the last time this group gets together.
Organizers said too many times, they’re seeing people talking with no action. They want to come up with a real plan to put an end to gun violence of all types.