The highest one-year increase in U.S. murder rates ever occurred during the pandemic.

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by Ernie Mundell and Robert Preidt HealthDay Journalists

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 5, 2021 (HealthDay News )

According to recent federal government statistics, the rate at which homicides claimed the lives of Americans increased by 30% over the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, marking the highest year-over-year increase ever.

According to preliminary data from the National Center for Health Statistics of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , the rate increased from 6 homicides per 100,000 people in 2019 to 7.8 per 100,000 in 2020. (NCHS).

The previous biggest yearly increase was a 20% surge from 2000 to 2001, which was partly attributed to the terrorist acts of September 11, 2001, which claimed over 3,000 lives.

One emergency medicine doctor was not surprised by the latest statistics.

Dr. Teresa Murray Amato, who wasn’t part in the CDC analysis, stated that emergency physicians “continue to track an increasingly disturbing increase trend in violence in the United States over the previous year.”

According to Amato, who oversees emergency medicine at Long Island Jewish Forest Hills in New York City, “it is unknown what impact the epidemic has had on these trends and additional research will need to be done to better understand why this is happening.”

The U.S. Department of Justice’s most recent findings are in line with the NCHS data regarding the dramatic increase in homicide rates between 2019 and 2020.

How much of the increase in killings can the epidemic and associated pressures be attributed to? According to one psychiatrist, lockdowns and COVID-19 anxieties were major factors.

Dr. Timothy Sullivan observed, “The epidemic quickly and to an unprecedented scale disturbed our everyday lives, creating changes in everything from physical activity to patterns of socialization, which then had physiological as well as emotional/psychological impacts.” Also in New York City, he serves as the department’s chair for psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Staten Island University Hospital.

Financial issues also came to the forefront as people lost their employment.

Sullivan stated that although suffering was widespread, it was particularly severe for some because of the economic ramifications of the pandemic. He also cited data indicating an increase in substance abuse and a consistent increase in domestic violence events over the previous 18 months.

However, the CDC said that provisional statistics on gunshot injury mortality rates suggest an increase in firearm deaths from 11.9 per 100,000 in 2019 to 13.6 per 100,000 in 2020 – a 14% rise. The new data do not break down how murders are being committed.

It is understandable that an increase in homicide rates could result from “this volatile combination of emotional, financial, and physical stress , combined with substance use and the too-ready availability of handguns in our society — which has been shown to increase the likelihood of shooting deaths associated with intimate partner violence.”

Even though the recent increase in homicides is shocking, the CDC emphasized that Americans today still have a lower chance of dying from homicide than they had in previous decades.

The CDC reported that homicide rates in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic are much lower than rates in the early 1980s, despite being the highest since 1995. Homicide rates in the United States were above 10 per 100,000 during those years.

According to the CDC team, more NCHS analysis will provide more information on the 2020 increases in homicide, including how they are committed, demographic demographics, and state-level data.

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More information on COVID-19 0 can be found at Prevention and the US Centers for Disease Control.

SOURCES: Teresa Murray Amato, MD, chair of emergency medicine at Long Island Jewish Forest Hills in New York City; Timothy Sullivan, MD, chair of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Staten Island University Hospital in New York City; and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, news release, October 6, 2021

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