In a horrifying new statistic, guns were found to be the leading cause of death of U.S. children and teens in 2020 — for the first time surpassing car accidents, drug overdoses and cancer, according to new research.
Overall gun-related deaths in America increased 13.5% from 2019 to 2020. But fatalities for those ages 1 to 19 — 4,300 individuals — jumped 29.5%, according to a research letter published earlier this week in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Though suicides contributed to the toll, homicides accounted for the majority of gun-related deaths, according to the data.
The research examined decades of mortality data for children from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“The increasing firearm-related mortality reflects a longer-term trend, and shows that we continue to fail to protect our youth from a preventable cause of death,” the letter said.
“In the last 40 years, and almost certainly before that, this is the first time that firearm injuries have surpassed motor vehicle crashes among kids,” said a co-author of the letter, Jason Goldstick, a research associate professor at the University of Michigan.
The number of car-related deaths, which had been the leading cause of death among children and teens, has dropped dramatically in the U.S. over the last 20 years, likely because of improvements in car safety. About 3,900 Americans ages 1 to 19 died from vehicle crash injuries in 2020.
The rate of gun-related deaths per 100,000 residents of all ages rose among both men and women and across ethnic demographics from 2019 to 2020, with the largest increase among Black Americans, researchers found.