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Death by Gun Violence
Data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2004-2009) indicates homicide was the number one cause of death for young African-American males (ages 15-24), most of the time involving guns. A devastatingly preventable health issue we seem unable to fix.
Black men and boys of all ages, have the highest risk of dying from a non-suicide violence-related firearm injury (i.e. homicides and legal intervention deaths) compared to people of other races.*
Consider this: In 2010, out of a population of 8,485,714 White men ages 20-24 years, 679 died from violence-related gun injuries. That same year, there were 1,438 deaths in the same category for Black men between 20-24 years. The total number of black men aged 20-24, however, was 1,673,391. There were five times as many White men of that age as there were Black men, but half as many violent gun deaths. Black men aged 20-24 were more than ten times more likely to die from a gun homicide or legal intervention than White men.
Gun violence death rates for Black men and boys are highest in the 15-19, 20-24, 25-29, and 30-34 age groups. These numbers, while disturbing, offer only a limited perspective of firearm violence’s impact. There are many more men and boys who survive gunshot wounds but are left with permanent damage, both mental and physical. The families of victims, and oftentimes the shooters, suffer as well.
Just as flu shots can lower numbers of influenza deaths, evidence-based violence prevention programs can decrease the number of people who die from firearm injuries. Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development is an initiative that reviews violence prevention and other health programs around the country to see if they work. It has strict evaluation criteria, meaning that the programs it does recommend are backed by solid evidence of their effectiveness. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention also has an initiative, Striving To Reduce Youth Violence Everywhere (STRYVE) that offers training, resources information, and connections to organizations working in violence prevention.
What is clear from the research and from these strategies is that violence prevention needs communities, families and individuals involved to work. Although the issue is controversial, firearm deaths are a public health problem, and deserve public health responses. Find out what you can do by getting involved in a local prevention effort. Contact your local school board, faith organization, or even health department to support violence prevention.
This article was written and submitted by Anne Dlugosz, a summer 2013 intern at Healthyblackmen.org. Content for this article secured from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention- Division of Violence Prevention and Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence (CSPV).