Childhood Homicides Involving Firearms Are Down, But Suicides Are Up
An average of 19 children die from gunshot wounds or are treated in hospital emergency rooms every day, with boys, teenagers and African Americans disproportionately affected, according to a new study that claims to be the most comprehensive analysis of childhood firearm deaths and injuries.
Unintentional shooting deaths declined from 2002 to 2014, and homicides involving firearms dropped from 2007 to 2014, according to the analysis, published Monday in the journal Pediatrics. Suicides involving firearms, on the other hand, decreased until 2007, then dramatically increased through 2014. The new study analyzed data from the National Vital Statistics and the National Electronic Injury Surveillance systems.
Firearms are the third-leading cause of death among U.S. children aged 17 and younger, according to the study. Firearms are the second-leading cause of injury among that age group.
“However difficult it may be to confront the problem of firearm injuries in our children, youth, and families, we cannot ignore the magnitude of this ongoing public health crisis,” Dr. Eliot Nelson, a pediatrician and professor at University of Vermont College of Medicine, wrote in an editorial accompanying the analysis. “Our time-honored role in preventive medicine, central to our pediatric mission, compels us to act.”
The dramatic increase in childhood gun-related suicide deaths tracks rising suicide rates among Americans generally. White and American Indian children were more likely to die by suicide than children of other races.
Most firearms deaths among kids and teens were intentional, with 53 percent of deaths classified as homicides, and 38 percent deemed suicides, according to the study. Only about 6 percent of deaths involving firearms were classified as unintentional. […]