After steady declines, firearm homicide rates are on the rise, according to a recent study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Firearm suicide rates have also continued to increase, accounting for 50 percent of all suicides and 42 percent of youth suicide, and suicide is now the 10th leading cause of death among all those over 10 years of age, said the study which examined statistics for shootings between 2015-2016—the latest period for which data is available.
The study outlined rising rates, possible means of prevention and steps forward in gun control.
“Another factor likely affecting both firearm homicide and suicide is access to firearms by persons at risk for harming themselves or others,” the CDC said.
Youth homicide rates, though lower than those among persons of all ages, have also been increasing. In large metropolitan areas, firearm homicide rates have remained higher than national rates.
The authors of the study—Scott Kegler, Linda Dahlberg and James Mercy—noted three instances in which reducing access to guns may be helpful: reducing access to guns during an “acute suicidal risk,” particularly among young people; preventing persons accused or convicted of domestic violence restraining orders from possessing a firearm; and strengthening the background check system.
They called for more research.
According to 2015-2016 figures on large metropolitan area firearm homicide and suicide rates, 43 percent of the largest 50 metropolitan areas reported increases in the rate of gun-related deaths, compared to the rates in 2012-2013.
More than 27,000 people were killed in gun homicides in 2015-2016. In 2013-2013, that number was 23,000.
The data was collected using the National Vital Statistics System and population data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Homicide rates have begun to rise only recently. On the other hand, rates of suicide have been steadily increasing in the past 15 years across all ages, states, population groups and rural and urban settings. Rates of firearm suicide are still increasing. Rates increased 21 percent between 2006 and 2016.
“It is too soon to know whether recent increases in firearm homicide rates represent a short-term fluctuation or the beginning of a longer-term trend,” the report said.
The report noted preventing firearm homicides was difficult, but suggested policies to modify physical and social environments in urban areas may help, such as low income housing tax credits and greening activities.
The full study can be downloaded here.
Lauren Sonnenberg is a TCR news intern.