IIn 2021, Americans were kill with guns at the highest rate in 30 years, according to a federal analysis data published by researchers from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on October 6.
Using data from the National Vital Statistics System and the US Census Bureau, researchers found that the US firearm homicide rate rose from 6.12 people per 100,000 in 2020 to 6.63 in 2021 – the highest rate in the US since 1993 – while The rate of suicides by firearm increased from 8.07 to 8.75 per 100,000 people – the highest rate since 1990. Nearly 21,000 people died from firearm homicides in 2021, an 8% increase from the previous year, and more than 26,000 people died Due to suicide by firearms – an increase of 8% among people over 10 years of age.
These increases reflect a rise in deaths from suicide and homicide overall in 2021. According to FBI data Released October 5we Homicides increased 4.3% in 2021and a 30% increase in homicides between 2019 and 2020. Other data shows that deaths by suicide By 4% in 2021 After backtracking for two years.
Firearms play a larger role in these types of deaths. The largest share of homicides and suicides was caused by firearms compared to 2020, rising from 79% to 81% in homicides and from 53% to 55% in deaths from suicide.
The main factor appears to be the increase in the number of guns, says David Hemenway, a professor at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and co-director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center (who was not involved in the new research). In the US (although he notes that more data will be necessary to test this hypothesis, such as checking whether suicides have increased more in places with larger guns). Around 40% of Americans own firearmsArms sales soared during the COVID-19 pandemic; 18% of American households bought a gun from March 2020 to March 2022, and about 5% of American adults bought a gun for the first time, according to research organization NORC at the University of Chicago. Hemenway notes that non-fiery suicides and homicides barely changed in 2021.
“It’s often really hard to understand the year-to-year differences in injury deaths, but the reasoning here seems pretty clear,” he says. “We have more people with more guns between 2020 and 2021.”
While people of all ages and races were affected, some groups were affected more likely To kill with a gun. Black Americans were the most likely to be killed in firearm homicides, and although every age group experienced higher rates compared to other racial groups, blacks aged 25-44 were the most vulnerable. They were more likely to die from suicide caused by firearms, but among people 45 or older, whites were the most likely to die.
There may be a dangerous mix of explanations for the increase, including the impact of the pandemic, said Dr. Garen Winmotte, director of the Violence Prevention Research Program at the University of California, Davis (who was not involved in the study). “We’re living a huge social experiment,” he says. “What happens in a society that is fearful, uncertain about its future, and angry at itself when millions of excess firearms are thrown into the mix?”
The authors of the analysis write that while they cannot explain the cause of the increases, systemic inequality—including inequality in economic opportunity, housing, and employment—and structural racism have exacerbated inequalities, and covid-19 pandemic It might make things worse. Their findings “emphasize the critical need for prevention effortsthey write, including outreach, hospital interventions, and limiting access to firearms among people at risk of harming themselves or anyone else.
If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis or is considering suicide, call or text 988. In an emergency, call 911 or seek care from a local hospital or mental health provider.
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