Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Gun Suicides Reach Record High in 2022, Provisional Data Show

The overall rate of suicide by guns in the United States increased 1.6% between 2021 and 2022, reaching an all-time high, according to provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The data were analyzed by researchers at the John Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions.

“The provisional data show that the American epidemic of gun violence persists,” Ari Davis, M.P.P., a policy advisor with the center at Johns Hopkins, said in a news release. “[G]un suicides continue to take the lives of elderly White men at high rates and increasingly the lives of Black teens.”

Davis and colleagues analyzed provisional data from the CDC’s WONDER database, which uses death certificates to identify causes of death for U.S. residents and includes demographic information. The data are not yet finalized, and the CDC expects to release the 2022 data this winter. In past years, changes between provisional and final data have been minor, the researchers noted.

A total of 26,993 people died by gun suicide in 2022, up from 26,328 deaths in 2021—which was previously considered the highest number of gun suicides since the CDC began recording such data in 1968. From 2020 to 2021, gun suicides increased 8.3%, the largest one-year increase recorded in over four decades, a previous report found.

Additional findings from the 2022 data included the following:

  • The gun suicide rate among Black children and teens tripled from 2003 to 2022.
  • In 2022, the gun suicide rate among Black children and teens aged 10 to 19 years surpassed the rate among their White counterparts for the first time since the CDC began recording such data in 1968.
  • In 2022, 4,590 children and teens aged 1 to 19 years were killed by guns—a slight drop from 2021. 2022 marked the fifth straight year that guns were the leading cause of death for U.S. youth.
  • The gun death rate among children and teens increased 87% from 2013 to 2022, driven by both homicides and suicides.
  • In 2022, 19,592 people died from gun homicides—a drop of 1,366 such deaths from 2021. Even with this decrease, however, the gun homicide rate in 2022 was the second highest such rate since 1995.
  • In 2022, Black children and teens were 20 times more likely to die by gun homicide compared with their White counterparts.

“We are all impacted by this ongoing public health crisis,” Davis said in the release. “It is past time for our leaders to enact evidence-based solutions to address it.”

For related information, see the Psychiatric News article “Multiple Barriers Inhibit Civilian Use of Red Flag Laws, Study Shows.”

(Image: iStock/xijian)

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