U.S. gun deaths rate up for second straight year, drug deaths rising faster

By: Fiza Pirani, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Updated:

A new government mortality report released Friday by the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed firearm deaths continue to increase and drug deaths are up 21 percent from last year.

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Analysts measured 20 causes of death in the National Vital Statistics System report, including deaths from liver disease, cancer, suicide, firearms and drug overdose.

Overall, mortality rates are up in this mid-2017 period compared to the same time period last year.

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American drug deaths spiked 21 percent over the last year, a one-year jump bigger than the previous four years combined. 

In 2016, for every 100,000 residents, almost 20 died in drug overdose, the report found. Heroin and other opioids are leading the deadly epidemic.

In 2015, there were 16.3 drug overdose deaths per 100,000 residents.

The report comes soon after President Donald Trump declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency in the U.S. as an estimated 175 Americans dies from opioids each day.

Additionally, the U.S. rate for gun deaths has increased for the second year in a row. 

Between 2015 and 2016, the overall firearm death rate rose to 12 deaths per 100,000 residents from 11 deaths per 100,000.

There were more than 38,000 gun deaths in 2016, up from approximately 36,000 in 2015 and around 33,500 each year between 2011 and 2014.

According to Garen Wintemute, a gun violence researcher at University of California, Davis, the new data shows the country is approaching two decades since there has been any “substantial improvement” in the rate of gun deaths, the Associated Press reported.

It’s too early to tell whether the 2017 rate will level off to last year’s, because most gun deaths tend to occur in warm weather, CDC chief of mortality statistics Bob Anderson said.

Death rates for heart disease, cancer and HIV, however, are all down as of mid-2017, compared to the same period in 2016.

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