US Gun Death Rate Hits 30-Year High With More Female Fatalities Than Men: Study


The gun death rate in the US last year hit its highest mark in nearly three decades and the rate among women has been growing faster than that of men, reveals a new study published in the medical journal JAMA Network Open. The research stated that 1,110,421 people have been killed both intentionally and accidentally by a firearm between 1990 and 2021, according to The Hill report that cited the study.

Women Fatalities Increase

The researchers found that the increase among women, mostly in Black women, is playing a tragic and under-recognized role in a tally that skews overwhelmingly male, reported news agency AFP. The rate of firearm-related homicides among women more than tripled since 2010 and the rate of gun-related suicides more than doubled since 2015, Fleegler and his co-authors wrote in their research paper.

“Women can get lost in the discussion because so many of the fatalities are men,” the report cited one of the authors Dr. Eric Fleegler of Harvard Medical School as saying.

About 14 percent affected by gun deaths are women but the rate increase among them is more pronounced. There were about seven gun deaths per 100,000 women last year, up from about four per 100,000 in 2010 – an increase of 71 per cent, the AFP report noted. The comparable increase for men was 45 percent, the rate rising to about 26 per 100,000 from about 18 per 100,000 in 2010.

For Black women, the firearm suicide rate rose from about 1.5 per 100,000 in 2015 to about 3 per 100,000 last year. Their homicide death rate last year was more than 18 per 100,000, compared with about 4 per 100,000 for Hispanic women and 2 per 100,000 for white women.

The research is one of the most comprehensive analyzes of US gun deaths in years, said David Hemenway, director of the Harvard University Injury Control Research Center.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data on US firearm deaths released in October listed more than 47,000 deaths last year, the maximum in at least 40 years.

The US population is growing but researchers say the rate of gun deaths has been getting worse too. Gun-related homicide and suicide rates both rose 8 percent last year, hitting levels not seen since the early 1990s.

The latest study analyzed trends in firearm deaths since 1990. Gun deaths increased steadily in 2005 but the rise accelerated recently, with a 20 percent jump from 2019 to 2021.

The highest homicide gun death rates continue to be in young Black men, at 142 per 100,000 for those in their early 20s. While the highest gun suicide death rates are in white men in their early 80s, at 45 per 100,000, the researchers said.

Reasons Behind The Gun Deaths

The factors could include disruption of work and personal lives, higher gun sales, stress and mental health problems, stressed experts. The reason behind the dramatic rise in gun deaths during the Covid-19 pandemic is “a straightforward question with probably a complicated answer that no one really knows the answer to”, said Fleegler, an emergency medicine physician at Boston children’s hospital.

The researchers counted more than 1.1m gun deaths over those 32 years – about the same as the number of American deaths attributed to Covid in the last three years.

In fact, three University of Michigan researchers noted that the paper confirmed racial and sexual differences in gun deaths and that homicide deaths are concentrated in cities and suicides are more common in rural areas. “Firearm violence is a worsening problem in the United States” and will require a range of efforts to control, they wrote.


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