U.S. firearm death rate ten times higher than other high-income countries

When compared with people living in 22 other high-income nations, Americans are ten times more likely to be killed by a gun, according to a new study by researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the University of Nevada, Reno.

The study appeared online February 3, 2016 in the American Journal of Medicine.

Analyzing World Health Organization mortality data, investigators found that despite having only half the population of the other 22 high-income nations combined, the U.S. accounted for 82% of all firearm deaths. In addition, the U.S. accounted for about 90% of all women, children, and youth age 24 and under, who were killed by firearms.

The study notes that gun homicide rates are 25 times higher in the U.S. than other high-income nations. And while suicide rates in the U.S. are similar to those in other high-income countries, Americans are eight times as likely to kill themselves with a gun.

“Many suicides are impulsive, and the urge to die fades away. Firearms are a swift and lethal method of suicide with a high case-fatality rate,” said study co-author David Hemenway, professor of health policy at Harvard Chan and director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center and the Harvard Youth Violence Prevention Center.

Read paper: Violent death rates: The US compared with other high-income OECD countries, 2010

Read American Journal of Medicine press release

Read Washington Post coverage: Americans are much, much more likely to be killed by guns than people in other countries