The homicide rate with firearms is up 35 percentBy Veita Bland, M.D. / May 20, 2022
The welfare of this nation has been rocked on many different fronts over the last two years. The pandemic has affected us beyond compare on so many different fronts. Americans have found the need to obtain and collect firearms. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) has announced that the homicide rate with firearms grew nearly 35 percent from 2019 to 2020. This is a huge increase and the largest increase seen in 25 years. Firearms were involved in 79 percent of all homicides and 59 percent of all suicides. Traditionally, we have seen homicides consistently higher among males, adolescents, young adults and non-Hispanic males, American Indian and Alaska Native peoples. However, this new study points out a few exaggerated trends.
There were more homicides in both females and males but there was a greater increase in males. This increase seemed to be universal in that it was not just in cities, big or small, but was also felt in rural areas as well. The increase in homicides was also seen in areas of increased poverty. Lastly, the greatest increase in homicides was seen in Black males.
When we turn our attention to suicides, the rates remained high and the same between 2019 and 2022. The higher the poverty level, the higher the suicide rate. The lower the poverty levels, the fewer suicides seen. The non-metropolitan and rural areas experienced the greatest increase in suicides. The greatest increase was seen in American Indian and Alaska Native males aged 10 to 44 years.
The CDC acknowledges that long standing inequities and structural racism may contribute to unfair and avoidable health disparities. The CDC also understands that something must be done.
These numbers were undoubtedly increased by the pandemic. All the stakeholders realize that a comprehensive plan is needed to reduce these numbers. This plan must address poverty. It must address safety in communities, and it must address the disparities in life. Dr. Debra Hurley, CDC acting principal deputy director and director of CDC’s National Center for injury Prevention and Control says, “Firearm deaths are preventable – not inevitable and everyone has a role to play in prevention.” The CDC has a vast array of programs in its pockets. We need to see them rolled out now to stop the carnage.
As seen with the recent massacre in Buffalo, N.Y., our country’s abundant availability of firearms, hate, lack of mental healthcare sources and isolation all make for tragic events.
The health of the nation is in danger on several fronts. As we reach the loss of over 1 million souls due to COVID-19, everyone must take the time to pause and reflect on how we got here. What strategies could have been implemented to prevent the loss of so many lives? Disparities in healthcare, poverty, missed messaging and misinformation are all players in this deadly scenario. Resources must be poured into communities of need. Communities of need must be willing to accept these resources and use them wisely for the betterment of all people.
Dr. Veita Bland is a board-certified Greensboro physician and hypertension specialist. Dr. Bland’s radio show, “It’s a Matter of Your Health,” can be heard live on Wednesdays, 5:30 p.m. on N.C. A&T State University’s WNAA, 90.1 FM. Listeners may call in and ask questions. The show is replayed on Sirius 142 at 5 p.m. on Wed. Email Dr. Bland at email@example.com.