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Leading Cause of Death of Youth in the U.S: Guns

Black youth also had higher rates of drowning deaths (1.6 times as high) and fire-related deaths (2.3 times as high) than white youth.

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USA, youth
Mourners grieve at a vigil in honor of Edward and Edwin Bryant, twin brothers who at age 17 were shot and killed in Chicago, Illinois, Oct. 31, 2016. VOA

Motor vehicles and firearms kill young Americans more than any other cause, like disease, which has significantly declined, according to a new study.

The New England Journal of Medicine reports that less than 2 percent (or 20,360) of all U.S. deaths — including adults — occur among children and adolescents 1 to 19 years old.

“By 2016,” the year for which the most recent data are available, “death among children and adolescents had become a rare event,” study authors Dr. Rebecca M. Cunningham, Maureen A. Walton and Dr. Patrick M. Carter of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor wrote in the Dec. 20 edition.

But in the second largest cause of death among young people — death by firearms — the U.S. leads the world.

“The rate of firearm deaths among children and adolescents was higher in the United States than in all other high-income countries and low-to-middle-income countries with available 2016 data,” the authors wrote, or 36.5 times as high as 12 other “high-income” countries.

Mass shooting, youth
Grace Fisher is a mom who is fearful for her three children. She said something needs to change with regard to gun regulations. She lives in a neighborhood near Thousand Oaks, site of the most recent U.S. mass shooting. VOA

Data for 2017, which are not included in the NEJM article, show a continued increase in firearm deaths for children and adolescents, Cunningham said.

“One in three U.S. homes with youth under 18 years of age has a firearm, with 43 percent of homes reporting that the firearm is kept unlocked and loaded, which increases the risk of firearm injuries,” the authors reported. “In addition to differences in availability between the United States and other countries, there is wide variability across countries in laws relating to the purchase of firearms, access to them and safe storage.”

At the same time, “early diagnosis, vaccinations, antibiotics, and medical and surgical treatment” resulted in “declines in deaths from infectious disease or cancer,” the report said.

And while motor vehicle events were the leading cause of death for young people, that cause has declined 38 percent over the past decade, the authors wrote.

What caused the declines?

“Seat belts and appropriate child safety seats, the production of cars with improved safety standards, better constructed roads, graduated driver licensing programs, and a focus on reducing teen drinking and driving,” the authors wrote, noting that the decline occurred at the same time as increases in the number of U.S. vehicles and annual vehicle-miles traveled.

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Among youth 10 to 19 years of age, injury deaths from motor vehicle crashes, firearms and suffocation were the three leading causes. VOA

But there’s a hitch: Between 2013 and 2016, research showed the decline leveling. And while researchers said they didn’t know for certain, they suspected that distracted driving by teenagers, by other teens in a car or by cellphone use, explained the leveling. The report also wondered about marijuana use and drugged driving leading to “decreased risk perceptions among adolescents.”

Among firearm deaths, 59 percent were homicides, 35 percent were suicides, and 4 percent were unintentional injuries such as accidental discharges of firearms, which aligns with incidents among Americans older than 20.

Death by firearms

Among the unintentional firearm deaths — less than 2 percent of all U.S. firearm deaths — 26 percent occurred among children and adolescents, the report said.

“Malignant neoplasms,” like cancer, were the third-leading cause of death, representing 9 percent of deaths among children and adolescents. That was followed by suffocation (7 percent) because of “bed linens, plastic bags, obstruction of the airway, hanging or strangulation.”

Among the youngest children, 1 to 4 years-old, drowning in swimming pools, rivers and lakes was the most common cause of death, the report said. Death by drowning was more rare in older children, “which potentially reflects widespread swim training among school-aged children.”

Gun control, youth
A man wears an unloaded pistol during a pro gun-rights rally at the state capitol, Saturday, April 14, 2018, in Austin, Texas. Gun rights supporters rallied across the United States to counter a recent wave of student-led protests against gun violence. (AP Photo/Eric Gay) VOA

Among youth 10 to 19 years of age, injury deaths from motor vehicle crashes, firearms and suffocation were the three leading causes. Researchers said these causes reflected “increased risk-taking behavior, differential peer and parental influence, and initiation of substance use.”

Drug overdoses or poisonings rose to the sixth-leading cause of death among children and adolescents in 2016, the report said, attributed to an increase in “opioid overdoses, which account for well over half of all drug overdoses among adolescents.”

Mortality was higher among blacks (38.2 per 100,000) and American Indians or Alaska Natives (28.0 per 100,000) than among whites (24.2 per 100,000) and Asians or Pacific Islanders (15.9 per 100,000), the authors wrote. Deaths related to firearms were the leading cause of death among black youth and occurred 3.7 times the rate of such deaths among white youth.

Drowning deaths

Black youth also had higher rates of drowning deaths (1.6 times as high) and fire-related deaths (2.3 times as high) than white youth. Blacks had death rates from heart disease and chronic lower respiratory diseases such as asthma that were 2.1 and 6.3 times as high, respectively, as the rates among white youth.

Also Read: Video: Orange Rallies in US Honor Victims of Gun Violence

“Such disparities probably reflect underlying socioeconomic issues, including poverty, environmental exposures and differential access to health care services,” the researchers wrote.

“Progress toward further reducing deaths among children and adolescents will require a shift in public perceptions so that injury deaths are viewed not as ‘accidents,’ but rather as social ecologic phenomena that are amenable to prevention.” the authors concluded. (VOA)

Next Story

World Leaders Prepare for G7 Summit Even As Fears Over Global Economy Increases

The economic fears are rooted in the trade war between the United States and China

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G7 Summit
Security concerns will also be high on the agenda. North Korea has resumed its ballistic missile tests. Pixabay

The G-7 host, Emmanuel Macron,  has made fighting inequality the theme for the annual meeting of the seven industrialized nations, which opens Saturday in the French seaside resort of Biarritz with the leaders of the United States, France, Britain, Germany, Italy, Japan and Canada in attendance.

The French president has invited leaders from several other countries, including six African nations, to take part in the annual discussion of major global challenges. But analysts say any grand ambitions for the summit will likely be stymied by pressing economic concerns.

Most worrisome are recent indicators from both sides of the Atlantic of slowing economic growth and a possible global recession.

Earlier this month, government bond yields in both the United States and Germany were briefly higher for two-year than 10-year bonds, a sign that investors see significant risks ahead, says economist Jasper Lawler of the London Capital Group.

“Particularly in the U.S., it’s actually been a very reliable signal to point towards a recession.”

Adding the investors’ fears, the usual fiscal tools to tackle a recession might not be available.

“We don’t have that usual fallback from central banks of cutting interest rates because they already have, and they are already at rock bottom levels,” says Lawler.

G7 Summit
Summit host France is determined to not let economics overshadow its own agenda. Pixabay

The economic fears are rooted in the trade war between the United States and China, which has resulted in both countries imposing tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of imports. Europe is suffering additional headwinds, says economist Lawler.

“The trade war, but also just the auto sector, the transition from using diesel cars to electronic vehicles. It’s a period of uncertainty that’s unduly affecting Europe.”

Summit host France is determined to not let economics overshadow its own agenda — and top of the list is climate change, says John Kirton of the G-7 Research Group at the University of Toronto.

“It’s driven by the scary science which is unfolding every day, but more importantly by the historic heat waves that have afflicted Europe, including France.”

U.S. President Donald Trump left last year’s G-7 summit in Canada early, before the leaders had discussed climate change, and later disavowed the final communiqué. This year France is determined to keep the United States on board, says Kirton.

“President Macron I think has structured his agenda to allow Donald Trump to be at his best. Gender equality — the president has been very good at that, it’s at the top of the French list. Education — yes, and also health. It’s the president of the United States that’s been pushing the G-7 to try to get it to deal with the opioid crisis.”

G7 Summit
U.S. President Donald Trump left last year’s G-7 summit in Canada early, before the leaders had discussed climate change, and later disavowed the final communiqué. Pixabay

Security concerns will also be high on the agenda. North Korea has resumed its ballistic missile tests.

Meanwhile the standoff between Iran and the West has escalated over the seizure of a British-flagged oil tanker in the Persian Gulf, which followed the detention of an Iranian vessel in Gibraltar.

Burgeoning anti-government protests in Russia and Hong Kong also pose questions for the G-7, says Kirton.

Also Read: Purchase Rights for Huawei Extended By US

“Have we seen the tide [change], where authoritarian leaders in various degrees are no longer in control? It may not be the way of the future. In fact, if that’s the case, then how can the G-7 activate its distinctive foundational issue: to promote democracy?” Kirton asked.

Meanwhile British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will meet Trump at the G-7 for the first time in his new role. Both leaders are hoping for a rapid trade deal amid signs of a steep economic downturn in Britain as it edges closer to crashing out of the European Union with no deal at the end of October. (VOA)