WEDNESDAY, March 2, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Firearm deaths have overtaken car crashes as the leading cause of premature death in the United States since 2017, according to a study published online Feb. 22 in Trauma Surgery & Acute Care Open.

Joshua Klein, D.O., from the Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla, New York, and colleagues used data from the National Vital Statistics Reports and Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (2009 to 2018) to determine the magnitude of years of potential life lost (YPLL) due to firearms.

The researchers found that YPLL in 2017 and 2018 were higher for firearms than motor vehicle crashes. YPLL for firearms in 2018 was 1.42 million versus 1.34 million for motor vehicle crashes. Of the 38,929 firearm deaths, men accounted for the majority (85.4 percent). During the 10-year period, White men had the most YPLL due to suicide (4.95 million YPLL), while Black men had the most YPLL due to homicide (3.2 million YPLL). The U.S. South had the highest number of firearm-related injury deaths, followed by the West, Midwest, and Northeast, respectively.

“Suicide is responsible for the most YPLL due to firearm deaths, and continues to increase in the USA at an alarming rate. The predominant populations that are affected by firearm deaths are older White males secondary to suicide, and younger Black males secondary to homicide,” the authors write. “More resources should be redirected and allocated to these at-risk populations to decrease this potentially preventable cause of death and years of life lost.”

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