Firearm Deaths are Increasing and Endemic in the USA: It is a Problem of Suicides and Not Homicides

Peter M Rhee, Kartik Prabhakaran, Bellal Joseph, Abbas Smiley, Kenji Okumura, Joshua Klein, Anthony Policastro, Gary Lombardo, Rifat Latifi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: To analyze and report on the changes in epidemiology traumatic causes of death in the USA. Methods: Data were extracted from the annual National Vital Statistics Reports (2008–2017) from Center for Disease Control and analyzed for trends during the time period given. Generalized additive model was applied to evaluate the significance of trend using R software. Results: Firearm deaths (39,790) and firearm death rate (12.2/100,000) in 2017 were the highest reported, and this increasing trend was significant (p < 0.001) the last ten years. Deaths from motor vehicle crash (MVC) and firearm homicides did not change significantly during the same time period. Firearm deaths were lower than MVC deaths by 21% (8,197/39,790) in 2008, but after 10 years, the difference was only 1% (458/40,231). Years of life lost from firearms is now higher than MVC. Suicides by firearm in 2017 were the highest reported at 23,854/39,773 (60%). In 2017, suicides by firearm victims were predominantly white 20,328/23,562 (85%), men 20,362/23,562 (86%), and the largest group was between the ages of 55–64. Conclusions: Death from firearms in the USA is increasing and endemic. They were the highest ever reported in 2017 by the CDC. While deaths from MVC used to be the main cause of traumatic death in the USA, deaths from firearms now almost equal it. Calculated years of life lost from firearms is now more than from MVC. Most firearm deaths are not from homicides but are from suicides, and they are predominantly in white older males of the baby boomer generation (born 1946–1964).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1323-1329
Number of pages7
JournalWorld journal of surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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