Car accidents have lost top spot in the grim rankings
Firearms are now the primary cause of death among those aged under 19 in America, according to a report published on Wednesday.
Gun-related fatalities spiked by 29.5% among children and adolescents in the US between 2019 and 2020, the paper, published by the Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention (IFIP) at the University of New England, has reported. Most of the deaths were homicides, followed by suicides and accidental shootings, the researchers said.
Fatalities from firearms have been on the rise in all age groups in the US in recent years, with data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicating that there were 45,222 such incidents in 2020.
“We knew gun violence had increased but I was surprised by the level of increase for just one year,” Dr. Jason Goldstick, a researcher with IFIP and associate professor of emergency medicine at the University of Michigan, told The Guardian. “I can’t remember ever seeing that before.”
The new figures mean that firearm-related deaths have surpassed car accidents as the leading cause of mortality among young people in America. And it’s not the only alarming trend, as drug overdose and poisoning made it to third place in the age group, increasing by 83.6% from 2019 to 2020.
“Although the new data are consistent with other evidence that firearm violence has increased during the Covid-19 pandemic, the reasons for the increase are unclear,” the paper said.
There is also no reason to believe it will return to pre-pandemic levels anytime soon, it warned.
“We continue to fail to protect our youth from a preventable cause of death,” the authors said, adding that investment in efforts to prevent gun violence must be made.