The U.S. rate for gun deaths has increased for the second straight year after 15 years of no real change, a government report shows. About two-thirds of gun deaths are suicides, and those have been increasing for about 10 years. Until recently, that has been offset by a decline in people shot dead by others. There has been an upswing in those gun-related homicides, too, some experts said, the Associated Press reports. The firearm death rate rose to 12 deaths per 100,000 people last year, up from 11 in 2015, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Before that, the rate had hovered just above 10, a level it had fallen to in the late 1990s. In the early 90s, it was as high as 15 per 100,000 people.
In the past two years, sharp homicide increases in Chicago and other places have been large enough to elevate the national statistics. The FBI tally of homicides involving guns rose to nearly 11,000 last year, from about 9,600 the year before. Overall, there were more than 38,000 gun deaths last year, up from about 36,000 in 2015, and around 33,500 each year between 2011 and 2014. The latest CDC report means the nation is approaching two decades since there’s been any substantial improvement in the rate of gun deaths, said Dr. Garen Wintemute of the University of California, Davis. The CDC also reported a continued increase in the death rate from drug overdoses, which hit 20 per 100,000 last year, up from 16 the year before.