Firearms became the leading cause of death among children and teens in the United States by 2020, according to new research using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The finding comes after a record 45,222 people died from firearms-related injuries in 2020 in the United States, according to a letter published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Most of the deaths were due to gunshot wounds.
Researchers from the University of Michigan noted that an alarming number of deaths, 10,186 (22.5%), were from people aged 1 to 19.
For more than 60 years, motor vehicle accidents had been the leading cause of death among young people, but since 2001, the number of these deaths has dropped dramatically. There were about 3,900 deaths in 2020. Meanwhile, firearm-related deaths have been rising since 2013; there was an increase of 29.5% from 2019 to 2020.
“This tells us that it’s a worsening problem in the United States, and I think the latest data suggests that the trend is actually accelerating,” Jason Goldstick, a research associate professor at the University of Michigan and co-author of the letter, told the United States. TODAY.
“If you look at other other countries, it’s not even comparable. The risk of gun violence in other countries is not even in the same league as it is in the United States.”
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The main cause of gun-related deaths was interpersonal violence, he said, so the number of gun-related injuries could also be higher.
Goldstick said several factors may have contributed to the dramatic increase in deaths among young people, but noted that a 2019 study by researchers at the University of California, Davis found that damage to small arms increases after increases in arms purchases. A survey in February 2021 showed that there was an increase in the purchase of firearms after the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Patrick Carter, associate professor of emergency medicine at the University of Michigan and co-author of the study, said one of the reasons why deaths in motor vehicles have fallen in recent decades is due to research documenting ways to make highways safer despite a increase in cars on the roads. .
“Changing behavior, improving vehicle safety, improving roads and educating our drivers better is all through evidence-based research,” Carter said. “What we have seen with firearms is that we have not until recently been able to apply the same type of evidence-based research to the problem of firearms.”
If it can be proven that these methods reduce the amount of gun-related violence, Carter said, the trend could ease. More education on weapons training and finding ways to keep guns away from children and teens can help turn the corner, he said.
“It gives me hope that we can apply these types of evidence-based results in the same way we did for vehicles over the last 50 years, to the problem of firearms deaths,” he said. “We can then change and bend the curve for the number of children who die from firearms.”
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