Six countries in the Americas account for half of all firearm deaths

August 28, 2018

SEATTLE - A new study reveals more than a quarter-million people died from firearm-related injuries in 2016, with half of those deaths occurring in only six countries in the Americas: Brazil, the United States, Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, and Guatemala.

A part of the Global Burden of Disease, the study assesses firearm-related mortality between 1990 and 2016 for 195 countries and territories by age and by sex. It is the most extensive study ever conducted on global firearm-related deaths. Deaths from conflict and terrorism, executions, and law enforcement shootings were not included in the total estimates.

"This study confirms what many have been claiming for years - that gun violence is one of the greatest public health crises of our time," said Dr. Mohsen Naghavi, a professor of global health at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, and first author of the study. "There are no simple antidotes to address this health problem. The tragedy of each firearm-related death will continue until reasonable and reasoned leaders come together to address the issue."

The study, "Global mortality from firearms, 1990-2016," was published today in JAMA.

Study authors found patterns of firearm-related deaths vary widely by country and by cause. In 2016, 64% of global firearm-related deaths were homicides; 27% were suicides, and 9% were accidental injuries. Firearm-related homicides were the largest fraction of all firearm deaths in 113 of 195 countries and territories in 2016, whereas firearm-related suicides were the largest fraction of all firearm deaths in 67 nations.

Global firearm-related deaths exceeded global conflict and terrorism deaths every year from 1990 to 2016, except 1994, when the Rwandan genocide occurred.

"Our findings provide a comprehensive analysis of firearm-related deaths - by homicide, suicide, and accidental injury," said Dr. Ali Mokdad, Professor of Health Metrics Sciences at IHME and a senior author on the paper. "The study also reinforces the message that it is imperative to expand gun safety and education."

Authors also revealed that in 2016, 87% of global firearm-related deaths - totaling 218,900 - were of males, with more than 34,700 male deaths occurring in the 20-24 year age group alone.

"These findings show the disproportionately high mortality among men," said IHME Director Dr. Christopher Murray, also a senior author. "This study is important for policymakers at the national and global levels."

Additional key findings include:
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The complete study and additional information are available at http://www.healthdata.org.

FIREARM-RELATED DEATHS (ALL AGES), BOTH SEXES, 2016

Aggregate firearm-related deaths (homicides, suicides, and accidental injuries combined)

  1. Brazil: 43,200 deaths
  2. United States: 37,200
  3. India: 26,500
  4. Mexico: 15,400
  5. Colombia: 13,300
  6. Venezuela: 12,800
  7. Philippines: 8,020
  8. Guatemala: 5,090
  9. Russia: 4,380
  10. Afghanistan: 4,050


FIREARM-RELATED DEATH RATES (AGE-ADJUSTED), BOTH SEXES, 2016

Aggregate firearm-related deaths (homicides, suicides, and accidental injuries combined)

Highest rates

  1. El Salvador: 39.2 deaths per 100,000 people
  2. Venezuela: 38.7
  3. Guatemala: 32.3
  4. Greenland (territory): 25.9
  5. Colombia: 25.9
  6. Honduras: 22.5
  7. US Virgin Islands (territory): 21.3
  8. Brazil: 19.4
  9. Jamaica: 18.1
  10. Puerto Rico (territory): 17.1


Lowest rates

  1. Singapore: 0.1 deaths per 100,000 people
  2. China: 0.2
  3. Oman: 0.2
  4. Japan: 0.2
  5. Taiwan (Province of China): 0.3
  6. Romania: 0.3
  7. United Kingdom: 0.3
  8. Qatar: 0.4
  9. Maldives: 0.4
  10. Mauritius: 0.4


Homicide by firearm

Highest rates

  1. El Salvador: 38.9 deaths per 100,000 people
  2. Venezuela: 32.9
  3. Guatemala: 28.0
  4. Colombia: 24.3
  5. Honduras: 21.6
  6. US Virgin Islands (territory): 19.0
  7. Brazil: 18.2
  8. Jamaica: 16.0
  9. Puerto Rico (territory): 15.5
  10. The Bahamas: 13.1


Lowest rates

  1. Singapore: 0.03 deaths per 100,000 people
  2. Japan: 0.03
  3. South Korea: 0.05
  4. China: 0.05
  5. Oman: 0.06
  6. United Kingdom: 0.07
  7. Iceland: 0.07
  8. Romania: 0.08
  9. Germany: 0.10
  10. Indonesia: 0.10


Suicide by firearm

Highest rates

  1. Greenland (territory): 22.0 deaths per 100,000 people
  2. United States: 6.4
  3. Uruguay: 4.2
  4. Zimbabwe: 3.1
  5. Venezuela: 3.0
  6. Argentina: 2.7
  7. Switzerland: 2.5
  8. Montenegro: 2.5
  9. Finland: 2.4
  10. Serbia: 2.4


Lowest rates

  1. Singapore: 0.07 deaths per 100,000 people
  2. Romania: 0.08
  3. Lebanon: 0.08
  4. China: 0.08
  5. Japan: 0.09
  6. Bermuda (territory): 0.09
  7. Taiwan (Province of China): 0.10
  8. Grenada: 0.12
  9. Qatar: 0.12
  10. Fiji: 0.13


Accidental death by firearm

Highest rates

  1. Guatemala: 3.6 deaths per 100,000 people
  2. Iraq: 3.1
  3. Antigua and Barbuda: 3.0
  4. Belize: 2.9
  5. Venezuela: 2.8
  6. Afghanistan: 2.4
  7. Uruguay: 2.4
  8. Chad: 2.3
  9. Guinea-Bissau: 2.2
  10. Haiti: 2.2


Lowest rates

  1. Oman: 0.3 deaths per 100,000 people
  2. Kuwait: 0.05
  3. Turkmenistan: 0.05
  4. Denmark: 0.05
  5. Mauritius: 0.05
  6. Singapore: 0.05
  7. Indonesia: 0.05
  8. Norway: 0.05
  9. Iceland: 0.05
  10. United Kingdom: 0.05


Media contacts:

IHME: Kelly Bienhoff, +1-206-897-2884 (office); +1-913-302-3817 (mobile); kbien@uw.edu

IHME: Dean Owen, +1-206-897-2858 (office); +1-206-434-5630 (mobile); dean1227@uw.edu

JAMA: Jim Michalski, +1-312-464-5785 (office); Jim.Michalski@jamanetwork.org

About the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) is an independent global health research organization at the University of Washington that provides rigorous and comparable measurement of the world's most important health problems and evaluates the strategies used to address them. IHME makes this information widely available so that policymakers have the evidence they need to make informed decisions about how to allocate resources to improve

Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation

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