Research found that suicide was the leading cause of violent deaths in 48 states and the District of Columbia in 2021.
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Research found that suicide was the leading cause of violent deaths in 48 states and the District of Columbia in 2021.

Research found that suicide was the leading cause of violent deaths in 48 states and the District of Columbia in 2021.

In 2021, there were 70,688 violent deaths in 48 states and the District of Columbia, more than half of which were suicides, according to research published in the July 11 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Brenda L. Nguyen, MPH, of the CDC in Atlanta, and her colleagues collected data on violent deaths that occurred in 2021 from death certificates, coroner and medical examiner records, and law enforcement reports.

Information was obtained on 68,866 fatal incidents, including 70,688 deaths, that occurred in 48 states and the District of Columbia in 2021. The researchers found that of the 70,688 deaths, the majority were suicides (58.2 percent), followed by homicides, undetermined deaths that may have been caused by violence, deaths resulting from legal intervention, and deaths resulting from unintentional firearm injuries (31.5, 8.2, 1.3, and <1.0 percent, respectively).

The suicide rate was higher among men than women and was highest among adults aged 85 and older and among non-Spanish-speaking American Indians or Alaska Natives. The most common method of suicide was firearm among both men and women.

Suicide was most frequently preceded by mental health, intimate partner, or physical health problems or a recent or impending crisis in the previous or upcoming 2 weeks among all suicide victims when the circumstances were known. The homicide rate was higher among men than women and was highest among those aged 20 to 24 years and among non-Hispanic black or African-American men.

“Monitoring the incidence of fatal violence-related injuries, identifying priorities, and informing preventive actions are essential components of public health surveillance,” the authors write.

More information:
Brenda L. Nguyen et al., Violent Death Surveillance—National Violent Death Reporting System, 48 States, District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, 2021, MMWR. Surveillance Summaries (2024). DOI: 10.15585/mmwr.ss7305a1

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