Why Are So Many Nashville Students Dying?

A recent study published in the journal Pediatrics reported that shootings are the third leading cause of death for American children.  The number of young people dying in Nashville is certainly evidence of this disturbing trend.

*UPDATE: Since this post was published February 8, another Nashville teen has been shot.  16-year-old Demario Crowder was shot multiple times outside Pearl-Cohn High School just minutes after dismissal.  He was taken to Vanderbilt Hospital and is currently in critical condition.  The shooter is still at large.

On February 7, 15-year-old Jeremiah Shelton, a freshman at Whites Creek High was fatally shot as he and a 19-year-old friend were “play fighting” with a loaded gun.  Jeremiah is one of seventeen MNPS students killed so far this school year.  While some died of natural causes, many were killed, most of them shot.  Some intentionally, some unintentionally. And some took their own lives.  Suicides among 10-19 year olds in Tennessee are on the rise.  Many of them use a gun, the most impulsive and lethal means.

Just five and half weeks into 2018, there have been already been five people under the age of 19 killed in Nashville.

In addition to 15-year-old Jeremiah, Samaii Daniel, 5, and her sister Sammarre Daniel, 8, and their mother were shot and killed outside their home by their 24-year-old step-brother in a domestic violence shooting on January 12th.

16-year-old Jose Gutierrez, a student at Glencliff High, was shot by  Jazmine Wheeler, 16, a friend as the two were riding in car on January 15th.  Guiterrez was dropped off at a hospital where he died.

Thomas Howard, 15, was a Maplewood student.  He was fatally shot on January 23rd  just outside his home by 16-year-old Kevon Mayberry.

According a report from News Channel 5, 36 students enrolled in Metro Nashville Public Schools died last school year.  On average, in Nashville alone, three student per month died last school year.

In January of 2017, WKRN reported that MNPS student deaths were at a three year high.  Based on the numbers so far this year, 2018 looks to be another record-breaking year.

Many if not most of these kids are the victims of senseless gun violence.  Every one of these children leave behind grieving families and friends, as well as heartbroken teachers and faith leaders. According to MNPS officials, their crisis team is running non-stop.

It’s far past time for our state and our city to address the deaths of these children.  While the issue of youth violence and often, youth suicide, is complicated, aren’t our young people worth saving?  Dedicating funds and resources to studying the issue and addressing the proliferation of illegal guns on the street, many of which are stolen, needs to be a focus.  Intervention programs need to be a focus.

What does it say about us as Tennesseans – as Americans – that we are so willing to shrug off the deaths of these kids?