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Guns are a major cause of death for children in the US

  • Abdulaziz Ahmet YASAR
  • 21 Dec 2018

The United States has the second highest death rate by firearms globally. Now guns are also affecting a significant number of children.

A boy aims a Remington firearm at the annual National Rifle Association (NRA) meeting in Dallas, Texas, U.S., May 4, 2018 ( Reuters )

The US is known for its high levels of gun violence - one of the highest in the world.

With 10.6 gun-related deaths per100,000 people, the US is the second most violent country worldwide when it comes to firearms. 

However, the United States does not only have a problem with adult gun violence. Children make up a  growing number of deaths as a result of guns, accounting for 15 percent of the total number of gun-related deaths.

Suicides account for the largest share of deaths, representing more than 60 percent of deaths - 23,854 out of39,773.

According to the latest statistics, suicide rates are at record levels in the US.

Source: Institute for Health Metric and Evaluation()

Suicides as a result of firearms 

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, reports that suicide is the 10th leading cause of deaths in the United States. 

Last year, 47,173 people died as a result of taking their own life almost half that total number 23,854, as a result of firearms.

In 2017 alone there were approximately 1,300,000 suicide attempts in the US. 

Studies have shown that a culture of weapons possession and the high number of private ownership of firearms, has resulted in its usage in times of stress, depression, violent conflict and several other social reasons including poverty and alcohol consumption. 

For instance, the Harvard University’s Injury Control Research Center found out that there is an obvious relationship between owning guns and the suicide rate, like in the northwestern US state Wyoming - where 63 percent of households reportedly own firearms. 

And the inverse is also the case, where there is less gun ownership, suicide rates tend to be lower. There are a variety of reasons why this could be the case but firearms could also be associated with a "clean" and easy way to die.

Source: Small Arms Survey()

Usage of guns by children

More than 3,000 children and teenagers died as a result of firearms in 2016 accounting for 15.4 percent of all gun-related deaths in the United States. 

Easy access leads to easy usage and, if care is not taken, it is those who are not supposed to have access that suffer most.

Still, in 2015, only 34.9 percent of gun-owning parents said they store their household firearms locked and unloaded.

The 15.4 percent figure is more than 36 times higher than the average gun-related death rate among children seen in 12 other high-income countries. The next closest are Croatia, Lithuania and Sweden, and they are still 20 times lower than the US figure.

Source: Small Arms Survey()

Of the more than 3,000 children that died in 2017 as a result of gun related deaths, 3 percent of children between the ages of 10 and 19 died as a result of an accidental discharge of a weapon. 

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