Gun homicides are driving down life expectancy rates among young black Americans nearly twice as much as their white counterparts, reports a new study. The findings of the study are published in the BMJ Evidence-Base Medicine.
"Understanding the life years lost by assault and suicide due to firearms among white and black Americans can help us understand the race specific and intent-specific firearm mortality burden and inform prevention programs," explained corresponding author Bindu Kalesan, PhD, MPH, assistant professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and assistant professor of community health services at Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH).
‘Gun homicides caused the life expectancy of black Americans to drop by over four years from 2000 to 2016, twice as much as the reduction in life expectancy of white Americans during the same period.
Researchers from BUSM and BUSPH used data from the Centers for Disease Control from 2000 to 2016 to calculate life expectancy loss due to firearm deaths. They found the overall life expectancy loss was twice as high among blacks compared with whites (black Americans lost 4.14 years while white Americans lost 2.23 years) and is driven by substantially higher homicide rates among blacks up to age 20.
"Interestingly, we also found that suicides occur mainly among older whites contributing to a relatively lower life expectancy loss while assaults occur among young black Americans contributing to a very large life expectancy loss."
The authors believe this is the first contemporary study to quantifying the magnitude of life expectancy loss at different age groups due to assault and suicide firearm mortality among black and white Americans.
"Our study shines a light on the magnitude of the problem in terms of how many years of life are lost due to guns, and there is an impervious gap between white and black Americans that have been left to grow. We hope that as much as gun carrying is a constitutional right, there should be an awareness regarding the burden of death due to guns and action to prevent these deaths."
A multi-disciplinary team of epidemiologists, trauma researchers, surgeons, and biostatisticians from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the College of Health Sciences, University of Massachusetts Lowell, also contributed to this research project.