Firearms have surpassed automobiles as the leading cause of death among children and adolescents in the United States, researchers at the University of Michigan say.
What You Need To Know
- Firearms have surpassed automobiles as the leading cause of death among children and adolescents in the United States, researchers at the University of Michigan say.
- The researchers analyzed recently released data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for 2020 and wrote about their findings in The New England Journal of Medicine
- More than 4,300 individuals ages 1 to 19 died as the result of firearms in 2020 — suicides, homicides and accidents
- Meanwhile, motor vehicle deaths have remained relatively steady over the past decade and are about half what they were 20 years ago
More than 4,300 individuals ages 1 to 19 died as the result of firearms in 2020 — suicides, homicides and accidents. That number was 29.5% higher than in 2019 — an increase more than twice as high as in the general population.
Meanwhile, motor vehicle deaths have remained relatively steady over the past decade and are about half what they were 20 years ago. Automobiles caused about 3,900 deaths among children and adolescents in 2020.
The researchers wrote that the reasons for the spike in gun violence are unclear, but that more investments are needed to help prevent bloodshed.
“Firearm violence is one of the most critical challenges facing our society, and based on the latest federal data, this crisis is growing more and more intense,” Dr. Rebecca Cunningham, one of the article’s authors and the University of Michigan’s vice president of research, said in a statement.
“Injury prevention science played a crucial role in reducing automobile deaths without taking cars off the road, and we have a real opportunity here to generate a similar impact for reducing firearm deaths through the application of rigorous injury prevention science,” added co-author Dr. Patrick Carter, who is a co-director of the university’s Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention.
The researchers also found there was a sharp increase in drug overdoses and poisonings — collectively now the third-leading cause of deaths among children and adolescents. In 2020, more than 1,700 deaths were recorded in that age group, an 83% rise over the previous year. There was a 111% increase in unintentional poisonings alone.
“The rates for other leading causes of death have remained relatively stable since the previous analysis (in 2018), which suggests that changes in mortality trends among children and adolescents during the early Covid-19 pandemic were specific to firearm-related injuries and drug poisoning,” the researchers wrote.
Across all age groups, there were 45,222 firearm-related deaths in 2020 — a new high. Homicides were up 13.5% from 2019 to 2020, while suicides increased by 1.1%.
The Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention launched last year as part of a $10 million university commitment to generate new insight and offer solutions to reduce firearm injuries and deaths while respecting the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens.
If you or a loved one is struggling, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, or text HOME to 741741 for support from the Crisis Text Line.