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Firearm Homicides and Overdose Deaths Reach Grim Milestones

Pandemic fuels alarming rates in firearm-related homicides and drug overdoses according to federal statistics released this week.
Firearm Homicides and Overdose Deaths Reach Grim Milestones

NPR reports that the rate at which Americans were killed in gun homicides leapt by nearly 35% in 2020 to the highest level in more than 25 years, according to new research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Amid the pandemic and recession that followed, gun homicide rates grew most among groups that were already at higher risk, researchers found — including people in poor areas, young men, and Black people.

Firearm-related homicide rate skyrockets amid stresses of the pandemic, the CDC says (NPR)

Excerpt from NPR: In 2020, the firearm homicide rate was 6.1 per 100,000 Americans — up from 4.6 a year earlier. No group was affected more than Black people, who die by firearm homicides at a rate far higher than any other racial or ethnic group. Black men and boys aged 10 to 24 died by gun homicide more than 21 times as often as white males in the same age groups, the report found.
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The report comes as communities across the country have been struggling with an increase in gun violence since 2020. In some cities, the bloodshed is well below what they saw a generation ago, while other communities have experienced record numbers of killings, writes The Washington Post.

U.S. firearm homicide rate in 2020 highest in quarter-century, CDC says (The Washington Post)

Excerpt from The Washington Post: The report’s findings were grim and consistent, with increases seen across the board. Firearm homicide rates went up in every region of the country and in every age group. About 4 in 5 homicides in 2020 involved firearms, the CDC report said, as did a little more than half of all suicides. Both figures were slightly up from the five previous years.
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In a related story, as reported by The New York Times, after a catastrophic increase in 2020, deaths from drug overdoses rose again to record-breaking levels in 2021, nearing 108,000, the result of an ever-worsening fentanyl crisis, according to preliminary new data published by the CDC.

Overdose Deaths Continue Rising, With Fentanyl and Meth Key Culprits (The New York Times)

Excerpt from The New York Times: The increase of nearly 15 percent followed a much steeper rise of almost 30 percent in 2020, an unrelenting crisis that has consumed federal and state drug policy officials. Since the 1970s, the number of drug overdose deaths has increased every year except 2018. A growing share of deaths continue to come from overdoses involving fentanyl, a class of potent synthetic opioids that are often mixed with other drugs, and methamphetamine, a synthetic stimulant. State health officials battling an influx of both drugs said many of the deaths appeared to be the result of combining the two.
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In an estimate released by the National Center for Health Statistics, the drug epidemic has now claimed 1 million lives in the 21st century, according to The Washington Post.

U.S. surpasses record 100,000 overdose deaths in 2021 (The Washington Post)

Excerpt from The Washington Post: The tally of 107,622 [drug overdoses in 2021] reflects challenges exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic: lost access to treatment, social isolation and a more potent drug supply. More than 80,000 people died using opioids, including prescription pain pills and fentanyl while deaths from methamphetamine and cocaine also rose. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, said the country is emerging from the pandemic with a "significant increase" in depression, anxiety, loneliness and suicidal thinking, "and that’s not going to disappear."
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