According to data, guns are now the main cause of death for children and adolescents
People at the University of Michigan have looked at new federal data that shows that guns have killed more children and teenagers in the United States than motor vehicles.
Jason Goldstick, Rebecca Cunningham, and Patrick Carter of the University of Michigan co-authored a study in The New England Journal of Medicine that quantifies the top causes of death for people aged 1 to 19.
Children and teenagers killed by guns rose 29% from 2019 to 2020, according to a study of data from the Center for Disease Control.
“The rising rates of firearm mortality are a longer-term trend that shows we are still failing to protect our youth from a preventable cause of death,” said Goldstick, a research associate professor of emergency medicine at Michigan Medicine and of health behavior and health education at the University of Michigan School of Public Health.
“Recent CDC and National Institutes of Health expenditures on firearm injury prevention research, as well as community violence reduction money in the federal budget, are a step in the right direction, but this momentum must continue if we truly want to reverse this worrying trend.”
The U-M Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention’s new Data and Methods Core, where academics examine national datasets to detect critical trends in firearm violence, is helping Goldstick and colleagues keep the momentum going.
Last year, the institution was set up as part of a $10 million university pledge to find new ways to reduce gun injuries and deaths while still allowing law-abiding people to legally own guns.
The latest analysis by University of Michigan researchers on primary causes of death in children and adolescents shows that firearm violence is on the rise across the country, and it can assist policymakers and community groups find potential solutions to address this national epidemic.
In 2020, more than 4,300 people aged 1 to 19 died as a result of firearms in the United States, including suicides, homicides, and unintentional deaths.
Nearly 3,900 children and adolescents died in motor vehicle accidents in 2020, while drug poisoning deaths increased by more than 83 percent, totaling more than 1,700 total deaths, making it the third-leading cause of death in this age group.
Motor vehicle crashes were consistently the leading cause of death for children and adolescents by a wide margin, but these types of fatalities have drastically decreased over the past 20 years by making vehicles and their drivers safer, said Carter, co-director of the institute and associate professor of emergency medicine and health behavior and health education.
“By applying rigorous harm prevention science, we have a real chance of having a similar impact in lowering gunshot deaths without taking cars off the road.”
In 2020, more than 45,000 people died as a result of weapons in the United States, regardless of age—an increase of more than 13% over 2019. Gun homicide, which increased by more than 33% from 2019 to 2020, was a major contributor to the national increase.
According to data analyzed by University of Michigan researchers, the number of people who killed themselves with a gun rose by about 1%.
Firearm violence is one of the most pressing issues confronting our society, and according to the most recent government data, the situation is intensifying, said Cunningham, the William G. Barsan Collegiate Professor of Emergency Medicine at the University of Michigan.
“We rely on scientific facts to reduce injuries and deaths as a country, and firearms should be no exception. Michigan has a lot of experience in this area, and we’ll keep using it to make communities safer and more vibrant all around the country. “