Saturday, 25 May, 2024
HomeEditor's PickFirearms overtake car crashes as cause of years of potential life lost...

Firearms overtake car crashes as cause of years of potential life lost in US trauma deaths

Firearms are now the leading cause of years of potential life lost (YPLL) in US trauma deaths, overtaking motor vehicle crashes (MVC) since 2017, found a data review by the Westchester Medical Center.

  • White males had the most YPLL due to suicide, with 4.95 m YPLL during the course of the 10-year period;
  • Black males had the most YPLL due to homicide with 3.2 million YPLL during the same time period.
  • The largest number of suicides by firearms was in older white males.

Researchers reached the findings after reviewing data from recent years in National Vital Statistics Reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC calculates years of potential life lost by subtracting a person’s age when they died from the standard year of 80, which is roughly the US life expectancy. The agency then sums the number of years lost across different causes of death.

The study, published in BMJ Trauma Surgery and Acute Care Open, looked at data from 2009–2018. In the first few years that researchers looked at, motor vehicle crashes accounted for more years of potential life lost than firearms. However, in 2017 guns exceeded crashes and continued to do so through 2018.

As researchers noted, years of potential life lost tends to be higher in trauma-related deaths as the individuals tend to be younger.

In 2018, the majority of the nearly 40,000 firearms deaths – 85.4% – occurred among men. Around half of these deaths were due to firearm suicide among white men. Firearm homicide was the highest among black men, with these deaths accounting for about a fifth of gun deaths in 2018.

Researchers noted that up to 70% of suicides are based on impulsive behaviour and suicide attempts usually occur after about three hours of contemplation.

“The availability of firearms makes the impulsive behaviour somewhat less reversible, and the effectiveness of the guns makes the attempts often successful,” they wrote.

Study details
Firearms: the leading cause of years of potential life lost

Joshua Klein, Kartik Prabhakaran, Rifat Latifi, Peter Rhee.

Published in BMJ Trauma Surgery and Acute Care Open on 22 February 2022

Abstract

Objectives
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that firearm deaths are increasing in the USA. The aims of this study were to determine the magnitude of potential years of life lost due to firearms and to examine the evolution of firearm deaths on the basis of sex, race, and geographical location within the USA.

Methods
Data were extracted (2009–2018) from the National Vital Statistics Reports from the CDC and the Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System database. Years of potential life lost was calculated by the CDC standard of subtracting the age at death from the standard year of 80, and then summing the individual years of potential life lost (YPLL) across each cause of death.

Results
The YPLL in 2017 and 2018 was higher for firearms than motor vehicle crashes (MVCs). In 2018, the YPLL for firearms was 1.42 million and 1.34 million for MVC. Males comprised the majority (85.4%) of the 38 929 firearm deaths. White males had the most YPLL due to suicide, with 4.95 million YPLL during the course of the 10-year period; black males had the most YPLL due to homicide with 3.2 million YPLL during the same time period. The largest number of suicides by firearms was in older white males. Firearm-related injury deaths were highest in the South, followed by the West, Midwest, and Northeast, respectively.

Conclusion
Firearms are now the leading cause of YPLL in trauma. Firearm deaths have overtaken MVC as the mechanism for the main cause of potential years of life lost since 2017. Suicide in white males accounts for more YPLL than homicides. Deaths related to firearms are potentially preventable causes of death and prevention efforts should be redirected.

 

TSACO article – Firearms: the leading cause of years of potential life lost (Creative Commons Licence)

 

See more from MedicalBrief archives:

 

SA homicides 7x global average, with sharp force the major cause of death

 

Gunshot admissions to Groote Schuur doubled in past 8 years

 

CDC report shows gun-related deaths rising in the US

 

US is facing a suicide crisis, latest figures show

 

Huge costs linked to hospitalisations for firearm-related injury in the US

 

Fourfold more US soldiers commit suicide than die in combat

 

Mass shootings point to a greater role for the public in dealing with casualties

 

Suicide spouses at increased risk for disorders – and suicide

 

 

MedicalBrief — our free weekly e-newsletter

We'd appreciate as much information as possible, however only an email address is required.