What's it like: To be shot with a gun

Jaclyn Cosgrove: From 2004 to 2010, there were 60 confirmed unintentional firearm deaths in Oklahoma, an average of 9 deaths per year. Half of those deaths were among men and boys 25 years old and younger.
by Jaclyn Cosgrove Published: May 4, 2014
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How common are gunshot wounds?

From 2004 to 2010, there were 60 confirmed unintentional firearm deaths in Oklahoma, an average of 9 deaths per year. Half of those deaths were among men and boys 25 years old and younger. Overall, the leading circumstances surrounding those deaths were: playing with a gun (37 percent); showing a gun to another person (18 percent) and hunting (15 percent).

Firearms were used in the majority of the homicides and suicides in Oklahoma from 2004 to 2009. Compared to female residents, male residents had almost four times more suicides, three times more homicides, almost 13 times more legal interventions, and 13 times more unintentional firearm deaths.

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a 24-hour, toll-free, confidential suicide prevention hotline at (800) 273-8255.

What happens to the body?

A bullet entering the body does more than injure whatever is along its path of trajectory. The blast energy when a bullet hits produces heat. That transfer of heat can cause damage along with the impact injury that the bullet will cause, as well. For example, a bullet can hit near a person’s abdomen but never actually enter the abdomen and still cause a bowel injury because of the heat transmitted from the bullet.

How is a gunshot treated?

It depends on the location. To begin, doctors will look at what organs and structures are closest to the bullet, and if they can, they’ll determine what path the bullet took.

Some gunshot wounds will require surgery. For example, if someone is shot in the abdomen, they will typically be taken to the operating room to explore what injuries they have. With a gunshot wound in a person’s abdomen, doctors generally don’t know what was hit or injured until they open someone up. The most pressing injuries will be tended to first.


by Jaclyn Cosgrove
Medical and Health Reporter
Jaclyn Cosgrove writes about health, public policy and medicine in Oklahoma, among other topics. She is an Oklahoma State University graduate. Jaclyn grew up in the southeast region of the state and enjoys writing about rural Oklahoma. She is...
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