Data Point: Gun violence is the most common cause of death for young men

BlogHealthFeb 22 2018

In the United States, 30 percent of deaths in 2016 among young men ages 15 to 19 can be attributed to gun violence. This is significantly higher than the percentage of young men who died in motor vehicle accidents (23 percent), or of illness or disease (21 percent). All other causes of death (including non-motor vehicle accidents like drowning and poisoning) made up 26 percent of deaths in 2016.

Among young men who died in 2016, 18 percent died from homicide due to gun violence and 10 percent died from gun-inflicted suicide. Comparatively, only 12 percent of deaths were due to non-firearm homicides and suicides.

These data make it clear that gun violence poses an outsized threat to young men in the United States. (Across all age groups of boys and men, only two percent of deaths in 2016 were due to gun violence.)

While overall numbers and rates of deaths for youths are down about 20 percent in just 10 years, the share of young men ages 15 to 19 dying from gun violence is actually increasing. Transport and motor vehicle accident deaths, for example, were almost halved in the last 10 years (from 23 per 100,000 youth in 2006 to just 13 in 2016). To protect young people, lawmakers and industries must consider taking steps to reduce gun violence similar to those taken in previous decades to reduce deaths by motor vehicles and other accidents.