- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Gun deaths have overtaken car crashes as the leading cause of trauma death in the U.S., according to new research that found firearm suicides among older White men are a driving factor.

Researchers at the Westchester Medical Center in New York pulled data from 2009 to 2018 and found gun deaths rose 0.72% per year over that period while car crashes fell 0.07% yearly, resulting in firearm deaths surpassing crashes in 2017.

An estimated 1.4 million years of potential life were lost due to gun deaths in 2017 compared to 1.37 million years due to car crashes. The trend continued into 2018 with the years of potential life lost due to firearms exceeding those due to car crashes by more than 38,000.

Firearm suicides surged from more than 18,700 in 2009 to more than 24,400 in 2018, and firearm homicides rose from about 11,500 to nearly 14,000 over the same period.

Males accounted for 85% of firearm deaths during the study period, according to a report this week in the medical journal Trauma Surgery & Acute Care Open.

Suicide among White males accounted for just under half, or 49.3%, of firearm deaths in 2018, with middle-aged and older men particularly impacted, while gun homicides among Black men accounted for 18% of gun deaths.

White males lost 4.95 million years of potential life due to firearm suicide compared with 1.7 million years because of firearm suicide.

Black males suffered from the inverse situation, losing 3.2 million years of potential life due to gun homicides compared to 0.4 million due to suicide.

Concerns about gun crime and so-called deaths from despair, including suicide, have continued since the end of the period detailed in the new report — fueled in part by the opioid epidemic and COVID-19 pandemic that increased social isolation.

The Gun Archive, an online record of gun violence tallied from law, media, government and commercial sources, reports there were 39,568 gun deaths in 2019; 43,651 in 2020 and 44,912 in 2021.

More than 1,000 Americans were wounded or killed in shootings in a notoriously bad week last July, with 109 in Illinois — particularly in Chicago — and 63 in Texas, according to a Daily Mail review of archive data.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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