LAS CRUCES – As the nation reels from the recent horrific mass shootings, a New Mexico State University researcher has found that gun deaths involving young Americans have rapidly increased across the most of the United States over the past decade.
The finding comes from an extensive analysis of federal firearm mortality data conducted by Jagdish Khubchandani, professor of public health sciences at NMSU, and James H. Price, professor emeritus of health education and public health at the University of Toledo.
Their research, published in the American Journal of Medicine Open, tracks changing trends in gun mortality among people 19 and younger in the United States from 2010 to 2019.
Since most existing research on youth gun mortality often focuses on a single year of data, Khubchandani said he and Price are looking to look at overall trends in mortality over time, by race. and by gender, and within each state.
Their findings show that the nationwide gun death rate per 100,000 youth increased by 30% between 2010 and 2019. Gun deaths among white and black youth saw the highest increases , increasing by 45% and 36% respectively.
According to the study, twenty-six states have seen a significant increase in the number of youth gun deaths over the past decade. In South Carolina, Arkansas, Colorado, Ohio, Kansas, Texas and Indiana, youth gun death rates have skyrocketed by 70% or more, while rates have declined in New York, California, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The rate in New Mexico jumped 45%.
The results also show that over the past decade, youth gun deaths have increased by 52% in the South and decreased by 28% in the Northeast. Youth gun suicides also increased by 63% over the same period, and gun deaths involving young women increased by 46%.
“The data points to a worsening gun death epidemic among young people and in most states,” Khubchandani said. “Our findings are consistent with previous research on youth firearm-related hospital encounters and community studies from other data sources. National hospital data specifically indicate higher rates of gunshot wounds. firearm among men, black youth, older youth, and those living in the South.
In previous studies published throughout the pandemic, Khubchandani and his collaborators found that rates of depression and anxiety among Americans had increased exponentially and that gun sales in the United States had reached a record level.
“It remains to be seen over time how these changes affect firearm-related mortality nationwide,” he said.
Khubchandani said the latest evidence on injury-related deaths indicates guns are now the leading cause of death among children.
“Our findings were a precursor to what is happening now,” he said.
In 2019, three of the top 10 causes of death for children ages 1 to 12 were unintentional injuries, homicides and suicides, according to a study reviewed by Khubchandani. In each case, firearms were the primary method of death. In the same year, the top three causes of death among teenagers aged 13 to 19 were unintentional injuries, suicides and homicides, with the majority being caused by firearms.
Additional studies by Khubchandani and his collaborators found that suicides among children and the elderly have also increased significantly over the past decade in the United States.
“Recent school shootings have been devastating to communities and families, but we also need to consider firearm deaths among children and adults on a much broader level,” Khubchandani said. “The vast majority of youth gun deaths occur outside of schools, and nearly 10 children die from guns every day in communities. We need to take a comprehensive approach to firearm death prevention practices and policies.
To read the study, visit https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2667036422000012.
“Eye on Research” is provided by New Mexico State University. This week’s article was written by Carlos Andres López of Marketing and Communications. He can be reached at 575-646-1955 or[email protected].