Alarming Trends in Mortality from Firearms Among United States Schoolchildren

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Alarming Trends in Mortality from Firearms Among United States Schoolchildren

Category: Homicide, Suicide, Unintentional, Youth|Journal: The American Journal of Medicine (full text)|Author: A Rubenstein, C Hennekens, R Levine, S Wood|Year: 2019

Background

Mortality from firearms among US schoolchildren is an increasingly major clinical and public health crisis. We explored temporal trends in mortality from firearms among US schoolchildren from 1999 to 2017 by age and race.

Methods

We used the Multiple Cause of Death Files of the United States National Center for Health Statistics; PubMed searches, and joinpoint regressions for trend analyses and calculated mortality rates and 95% confidence limits.

Results

From 1999 to 2017, the 38,942 deaths due to firearms in school-age children ranged from 340 per year at ages 5-14 to 2050 at 15-18 years. One epidemic among 5- to 14-year-olds began in 2009 and another among 15- to 18-year-olds began in 2014. The listed intents were 61% assault, 32% suicide, 5% accidental, and 2% undetermined. Blacks accounted for 41% of overall deaths, but only 17% of the school-age deaths. 86% of all deaths were boys.

Conclusions

Mortality from firearms in US schoolchildren is increasing at alarming rates, especially among blacks and those aged 15-18 years. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report to quantify these recent epidemics. Although federal laws prohibited them until recently, analytic studies designed a priori to do so are necessary to test the hypotheses generated by these descriptive data. We believe that combatting the epidemic of mortality from firearms among US schoolchildren without addressing firearms is analogous to combatting the epidemic of mortality from lung cancer from cigarettes without addressing cigarettes.

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