Little information is available on the numbers and circumstances — physical, mental, economic or social — of people who survive gun violence. Data suggest that:
- In the United States, it has been estimated that for every firearm death, three people with non-fatal gun injuries report to hospital; many more do not go to emergency rooms, increasing the estimate to as many as six non-fatal injuries per fatality.
- Gun violence is the third-leading cause of spinal cord injury in the Unite States.
- The long-term survival rate for people with traumatic injuries has increased over the past three decades.
In most contexts, in addition to physical injuries, trauma and mental health problems resulting from gun violence can be severe. These include flashbacks (reliving or remembering the event), involuntary memories, nightmares, dissociative states, or physiological and emotional arousal or withdrawal. Psychological trauma is not limited to the individual survivor but can also affect witnesses, police/emergency workers, caregivers, family and friends, who are referred to as secondary survivors.
Rehabilitation seeks to prevent permanent disability in people with impairments. In addition to medical care, it can involve caregiving arrangements, assistive devices, environmental adaptations and psychosocial support. For example, rehabilitation processes can support families with training in caregiving skills and adjustments to the physical environment such as home and workplace adaptations (e.g. widening doors for wheelchair access). However access to rehabilitation services is uneven:
- A 2005 global survey revealed that fewer than half of countries had rehabilitation policies and programmes, and only 50% had legislation in the area.
- In 1994, the Pan American Health Organization estimated that rehabilitation services in developing nations reached only 1-3% of people in need.
- Only 5-15% of people experiencing disability can access assistive devices in the developing world.
- In the US, spinal cord injury rehabilitation services have contracted in the last decade, leaving less time to train family members, fewer resources for adapting built environments, and less psychosocial support.
- Mental health services in most countries are under-resourced and under-publicised; in low-income and violence-affected settings the service gaps are particularly severe.