Deaths from firearms are reaching unprecedented levels

Credit: Tom Def / Unsplash

Firearm-related violence and suicides have been on the rise since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a study from Emory University and Boston Children’s Hospital, scientists found both the sheer magnitude of firearm fatalities in the U.S. over the past 32 years and the growing disparities by race/ethnicity, age, and geographic location.

They used data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and extracted the national number of firearm deaths and firearm fatality rates from 1990 to 2021 and examined the trends over time.

There were 1,110,421 firearm fatalities in the U.S. during this time period.

The team found while fatalities began a steady increase in 2005, the upward trajectory has accelerated in recent years with a 20% increase from 2019-2021.

The researchers dissected the numbers further by analyzing trends among specific populations in the U.S. The findings paint a bleak picture of a public health crisis that appears to be hitting certain demographics especially hard.

Maximum rates of fatalities by homicide among Black non-Hispanic men (141.8 fatalities/100,000 persons) strongly outpaced rates of fatalities among white non-Hispanic men (6.3 fatalities/100,000) and Hispanic men of the same age (22.8 fatalities/100,000 persons).

The data does show there are also differences in fatalities by intent. Suicides were most common among white non-Hispanic men 80-84 years (45.2 fatalities/100,000 persons).

The team says multiple potential factors have likely contributed to this including severe economic distress, an erupting mental health crisis, and a big uptick in the sale of firearms.

The most apparent takeaway from the findings is that the increase in firearm fatalities is not consistent for all age groups and ethnicities.

The researchers suggest that public health interventions must be tailored to specific demographic groups and should consider differences by intent.

For example, suicide prevention efforts in the U.S. may be most helpful for older men.

County-level rates can be used to pinpoint opportunities for community-based interventions, such as education for safe firearm storage, child access prevention laws, and violence intervention programs.

As fatalities from firearms rapidly move up the list of the leading causes of death in the U.S., multiple interventions at various levels are needed to effectively curb these increases.

If you care about the pandemic, please read studies about new evidence on rare blood clots after COVID-19 vaccination, and how vitamin B may help fight COVID-19.

For more information about the pandemic, please see recent studies that CBD from cannabis may inhibit COVID-19, and results showing a universal antibody therapy to fight all COVID-19 variants.

The study was conducted by Chris A. Rees et al and published in JAMA Network Open.

Copyright © 2022 Knowridge Science Report. All rights reserved.