North Carolina child deaths are skyrocketing

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – Child deaths in North Carolina are dramatically increasing according to the 2023 North Carolina Child Fatality Task Force report.

N.C. Child Policy and Government Relations Director Tiffany Gladney says, “There are two main factors that are driving up deaths in children and those are: lack of safe storage measures of guns and firearms and also the mental health crisis.”

The report, which is based on data from 2021, shows that North Carolina saw a 231.3% increase in firearm deaths and self-harm in children from 0 to 17 years old.

The report also reveals that N.C. is among 15% of states with the highest infant mortality rates in the country.

“To say I’m shocked would not be genuine. Of course, it is staggering and it’s heartbreaking to see that these rates are going in the wrong direction,” Gladney told WITN.

The N.C. Child Fatality Task Force is recommending more funds to provide more help. “There’s more work to be done. There are more policies to be passed. There are more conversations to be had with legislatures. There are more families to support and connect with.”

One recommendation from StarMed Healthcare’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Arin Piramzadian is to use funds for proper education. “Any time there is any funding given to things like this, we want to be sure that it goes to the right places so that it goes to the appropriate education.”

Gladney says it’s all with the sole intention to prevent deaths in both children and babies.

“Be encouraged, I would encourage folks to know yes, this is what we face and it is not great but we’ve got some work to do but we can do it; and we’re going to do it on behalf of our babies and children.”

Services are already in place for those who are struggling with mental health or self-harm. That includes the 24-hour suicide hotline that is as easy as dialing 9-8-8. Experts also say that as great as the current services are, they are constantly pursuing more ways to serve people.

Some funds will be used to increase the number of school nurses, counselors, and social workers as the numbers in North Carolina for each of these professions are below national recommendations.