Most firearm deaths are suicides, not homicides, according to the 2015 Annual Review of Public Health.
Suicides accounted on average for 60.5 percent of firearm deaths over the decade ending in 2012, a university report says.
In the United States, “The mortality rate from firearm violence has remained essentially unchanged since just before the turn of the 21st century,” wrote Professor Garen J. Wintemute of the University of California at Davis’ Violence Prevention Research Program.
Since 2006, firearm homicides have decreased, but firearm suicides have increased by a like amount, he said.
“Alcohol and controlled substance abuse are important predictors of future risk for violence, including firearm violence, whether directed at others or at oneself and whether or not mental illness is also present,” Wintemute wrote.
The review, titled “The Epidemiology of Firearm Violence in the 21st Century United States,” presents the following data:
In 2012, there were 32,288 deaths from firearm violence: 11,622 homicides and 20,666 suicides.
“Firearm violence is among the leading
causes of death for teenagers and young adults”
The societal costs of firearm suicides and homicides were about $164.6 billion in 2010, roughly 1.1 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product that year.
During the decade ending in 2012, there were on average 82.3 deaths from firearm violence every day: 32.5 homicides and 49.8 suicides.
Mass public killings accounted for a very small percentage of deaths from firearm violence. The four high-fatality events in this century resulted in 84 homicides.
Firearm ownership is probably the most widespread factor associated with risk of death from firearm violence.
Compared with other industrialized nations, the United States has uniquely high mortality rates from firearm homicide and suicide.
Contrary to popular belief, mental illness by itself is not a leading contributor to interpersonal firearm violence, though depression is a major factor for firearm suicide.
Firearm violence is among the leading causes of death for teenagers and young adults.
Firearm homicides are concentrated among Black males through much of the life span. Firearm suicides, on the other hand, are concentrated among White males, increasing sharply after age 70.
The mortality rates from firearm violence varied greatly among the states, with essentially no correlation between the rates of homicide and suicide.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now treats firearm-related deaths and injuries as a public health problem; it collects such data and publishes them via its Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System.