New data shows a 35% year-over-year increase in gun deaths in the United States.
Too often, Dr. Debra Houry has found herself covered in blood.
As an emergency physician in the United States for about 20 years, Houry said, it was “common” to treat young men in the emergency room with gunshot wounds. They would often “bleed” on her while resurrecting them.
Then she would go to the hospital for a clean white coat to wear, “so that she would look respectable and presentable to speak to their families – or someone who had survived but who as a result was paralyzed or was experiencing traumatic stress,” he mentioned.
“It was heartbreaking.”
The rate of gun-related deaths in the United States appears to be getting worse.
The rate of firearm homicides in the United States in 2020 was the highest since 1994, according to data released Tuesday by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where Houry is deputy chief director and chief Cabinet of the National Center for Injury Prevention.
Between 2019 and 2020, the overall rate of firearm homicides increased by about 35%, according to new data from the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
“The covia-19 pandemic may have exacerbated existing social and economic stressors that increase the risk of homicide and suicide, particularly among certain racial and ethnic communities,” the CDC researchers wrote in their report.
“Rising rates of firearm homicides and persistently high rates of firearm suicide in 2020, with increases among populations that were already at high risk, have widened disparities and heightened the urgency of actions that can have immediate and lasting benefits”.
In 2020, 79% of all homicides and 53% of all suicides involved firearms, according to the CDC, which is slightly more than the previous five years.
Firearm homicides increase, suicide rates remain stable
CDC researchers reviewed firearm death data from the agency’s National Vital Statistics systems and the National Center for Health Statistics, while taking a close look at county-level data and US census data on poverty.
Researchers found that during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, US counties with the highest level of poverty had rates of firearm homicides and suicides 4.5 and 1.3 times higher, respectively, than the counties with the lowest level of poverty.
“It’s a big lesson for me,” Houry said. “Because if we’re going to see where to intervene, it’s in a lot of these impoverished communities.”
The firearm homicide rate in 2020 was the highest recorded in more than 25 years, and the firearm suicide rate remained high. Find out what can be done to prevent firearm injuries and deaths in the new CDC #Vital signs report: https://t.co/qtdULSKC9n. @CDCInjury pic.twitter.com/8rzrTGBRVG
— CDC (@CDCgov) May 10, 2022
From 2019 to 2020, the overall firearm homicide rate fell from 4.6 deaths to 6.1 deaths per 100,000 people nationwide, according to the new data. But this increase has not been evenly distributed, revealing growing disparities in homicides.
The biggest increases in 2020 were for black men and boys aged 10 to 44, and American Indians or Alaska Natives aged 25 to 44, the data showed.
The CDC’s findings on the rate of firearm homicides closely follow the FBI’s 2020 Uniform Crime Report, released in September. FBI data shows a 29.4% increase in homicides between 2019 and 2020, the biggest jump the agency has ever recorded. The UCR recorded the homicide rate in the United States at 6.5 per 100,000 population. The report also indicates that homicides are increasingly committed with firearms, indicating that approximately 77% of homicides reported in 2020 were committed with firearms, compared to 74% in 2019. There is no federal firearms sales database, but other independent studies. found that gun sales skyrocketed during the Covid-19 pandemic.
More than 21,000 homicides recorded in 2020 in the United States
Meanwhile, the overall firearm suicide rate among people aged 10 and older has remained about the same between 2019 and 2020, increasing only slightly from 7.9 to 8.1 deaths per year. 100,000 people, CDC investigators found in your new report.
“While the overall firearm suicide rate remained relatively unchanged between 2019 and 2020, youth and some racial/ethnic minority groups experienced an increase in firearm suicides,” the researchers wrote.
The largest increase has been among American Indians and Alaska Natives, making them the group with the highest firearm suicide rate in 2020.
The report did not contain information on the specific type of firearms used. “Often this information is not on the death certificate. When included, the most common type of firearm is a pistol,” said Thomas Simon, associate director of science at the Division of CDC Violence Prevention.
“When I was in medical school, we didn’t talk about that”
Gun violence is a “significant public health issue,” Houry wrote in an opinion piece with Simon and Dr. Alexander Crosby, published Tuesday in the medical journal JAMA.
They note that clinicians can play an important role in talking to patients about gun safety, but medical schools often fail to integrate gun safety, violence prevention and the social determinants of health. in their programs.
“When I went to medical school it was something we didn’t talk about or practice on. I didn’t start thinking about it until I saw the consequences,” Houry said.
As a medical student in the late 1990s, Houry knew gun violence was a problem in the United States. “But I don’t think I know the magnitude of it and I didn’t realize the personal impact it would have on me and my patients,” he said.
In their JAMA article, Houry and colleagues referenced a study of more than 1,000 family physicians that found that nearly half of family physicians (46%) said they had not received training in gun safety tips, and that about two-thirds (68%) did not feel well informed to discuss gun safe storage devices.
“But those who received formal training were more likely to report a higher level of comfort when asking patients about gun possession,” Houry said. “So for me, it’s about making sure doctors understand their role and have the tools to know what to do.”
“We need to find a way to reduce the level of conflict in our society”
Communities can also use this new data on gun deaths to consider interventions to reduce violence.
“Child care subsidies can reduce stressors and prevent violence,” Houry said. “We have also funded studies of green initiatives where you can walk in and beautify vacant land by planting grass and trees. This has been shown to reduce gun attacks by up to 29% in poor areas.
The CDC funds 18 two-year study projects on gun violence. “With recent appropriations from Congress over the past two years, we were able to fund 18 promising projects to examine innovations aimed at preventing gun violence,” Houry said on a conference call Tuesday.
The rising murder rate in the United States is an ominous threat to the nation’s public health — but it’s no surprise, Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, last year. He said the increase in homicides has been accompanied by a recent general increase in violence, hatred, tension, political division and anger in communities across the country.
“We see it literally right before our eyes — at school board meetings and public events,” Benjamin said. “People seem to have lost all civility, and then you combine that with having to stay home and being stressed, losing your job, losing resources, fearing for your health, having more ‘weapons,’ he said. “I think we have to find a way to reduce the level of conflict in our society.”
how to get help: In Portugal, contact the Mental Health Service of the Hospital in your region – Adults, Children and Adolescents. Lines SNS24 (808 242424 and www.sns24.gov.pt) and 112 are also available. Get in touch through the Crisis Lines and the Psychological Counseling Line. For more information, see the National Suicide Prevention Plan.