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Guns: The Leading Cause of Death in White Male Suicides and Black Male Homicides

December 18, 2014 08:42:58 am

Photo by kcdsTM, via Flickr

It’s a startling parallel: homicides account for about 89 percent of firearms-related deaths among black men ages 15 to 44, while suicides account for about 89 percent of firearms-related deaths among white men ages 35 to 64, according to a new study in the Annual Review of Public Health.

Researchers at the University of California, Davis analyzed federal firearms mortality statistics from 2003 through 2012. They found that in 2006, homicide and suicide rates began going in different directions.

“There has been a notable divergence in firearm suicide and homicide rates since 2006; homicides have decreased, but suicides have increased by a like amount,” wrote the study’s author, Garen Wintemute.

Overall, homicide rates have fallen during the 21st century, but there has been little change in the death rate from firearms violence for young black males, who are five times more likely than Hispanic males and 20 times more likely than white males to be shot to death, according to the study.

Meanwhile, since the turn of the century, the increase in gun-related suicides among middle-age and older white males has completely offset the overall decline in homicides.

Suicides among white males accounted for nearly half of all deaths from firearms in 2012, according to the study.

The epidemiological study was published on Dec. 12, just days before the U.S. Senate confirmed Vivek Murthy as Surgeon General. The doctor’s appointment had been held up for more than a year, in part because gun rights supporters were perturbed by statements he made calling gun violence a public health issue.

Read the full study HERE.

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