According to research released on Tuesday, the number of gun deaths in the United States rose to its highest level in nearly three decades last year, with the rate among women climbing more quickly than that of men.
According to the researchers, the rise in females — most significantly among Black women — is contributing tragically to an underappreciated male-dominated trend.
Because men make up the majority of fatalities, “women often get lost in the discussion,” according to one of the authors, Dr. Eric Fleegler of Harvard Medical School.
According to a report written by Fleegler and his co-authors and published by JAMA Network Open, the prevalence of firearm-related killings among Black women has more than quadrupled since 2010, and the rate of gun-related suicides has more than doubled since 2015.
According to David Hemenway, director of the Injury Control Research Center at Harvard University, the study is one of the most thorough examinations of American gun deaths in recent memory.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published data on gun-related fatalities in the United States in October that totaled more than 47,000, the highest number in at least 40 years.
Although the U.S. population is expanding, studies claim that gun deaths have also been rising.
Both gun-related homicide and suicide rates in America increased 8% last year, each reaching levels not seen since the early 1990s.
Researchers looked at trends in firearm-related fatalities since 1990 in the new study. They discovered that the number of gun deaths started rising steadily in 2005 but that the direction lately quickened, with a 20% increase from 2019 to 2021.
Why did firearm fatalities increase so sharply during the COVID-19 pandemic? According to Fleegler, an emergency medicine doctor at Boston Children’s Hospital, that is “a clear issue with possibly a difficult response that no one understands the answer to.”
According to experts, factors could include disruptions to people’s personal and professional lives, increased gun sales, stress, and mental health problems.
Over those 32 years, the researchers recorded more than 1.1 million gun deaths, almost equivalent to the number of American fatalities linked to COVID-19 over the previous three years.
Women made up around 14% of gun fatalities, but their pace of increase is more noticeable.
Last year, there were almost seven gun deaths per 100,000 women, up from roughly 4 per 100,000 in 2010 – a 71% rise.
The rate increased by 45% for men, going from 18 per 100,000 in 2010 to approximately 26 per 100,000 in 2015.
The rate of Black women using firearms to commit suicide increased from 1.5 per 100,000 in 2015 to 3 per 100,000 in 2016.
Compared to roughly 4 per 100,000 Hispanic women and 2 per 100,000 white women, their homicide mortality rate was over 18 per 100,000 last year.
Young Black men continue to have the highest homicide gun death rates, at 142 per 100,000 for those in their early 20s.
According to the study, white males in their early 80s have the highest gun suicide death rates, at 45 per 100,000.
Three researchers from the University of Michigan stated in a commentary that the study’s findings “confirmed racial and sexual inequalities in gun mortality in the United States and those homicide deaths are concentrated in cities and suicides are more prevalent in rural areas.”
They added, “Firearm violence is a problem that is getting worse in the United States, and it will take a variety of approaches to address it.”