According to a study published Tuesday, the gun death rate last year in the US hit its highest mark in nearly three decades, with the rate growing faster among women than among men.
The study results confirm data on US firearm deaths last year which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released in October, and showed more than 47,000 deaths, the most in at least 40 years.
In a tally that skews overwhelmingly male, the increase among women is playing a tragic and under-recognized role, researchers say.
According to Dr. Eric Fleegler of Harvard Medical School, who wrote the paper published by JAMA Network Open with his co-authors, women can get lost in the discussion because so many of the fatalities are men.
Most dramatically, the rate of firearm-related homicides among Black women, more than tripled since 2010 whereas the rate of gun-related suicides more than doubled since 2015.
The gun death among women increased a whopping 71% – from about 4 gun deaths per 100,000 women in 2010 to 7 per 100,000 last year – whereas the homicide death rate among Black women last year was more than 18 per 100,000, compared with about 4 per 100,000 for Hispanic women and 2 per 100,000 for white women.
The research which, according to the Harvard University’s Injury Control Research Center’s director, David Hemenway is one of the most comprehensive analyses of gun deaths in America in years, shows that both gun-related homicide and suicide rates in America rose 8% in 2021, hitting levels not seen since the early 1990s.
Examining trends in firearm deaths since 1990, the study found that although gun deaths began to steadily increase back in 2005 – over those 32 years more than 1.1 million gun deaths were recorded – the rise accelerated dramatically only recently – with a 20% jump from 2019 to 2021- during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Though Fleegler said that no one really knows why that happened, factors could include higher gun sales, stress, and mental health issues as well as the disruption of people’s work and personal lives during the pandemic.
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