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KFF Research Brief: Youth Firearm Injuries and Deaths Trend Up since COVID-19

October 24, 2022

During 2021, firearm-related deaths for children rose about 50 percent from their pre-pandemic levels, according to a new research brief from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF).

Released this month, the KFF brief explores trends in firearm-related injury and mortality among children and the ways exposure to gun violence affects mental health and well-being.

"While some measures have been taken toward gun reform and addressing youth mental health, challenges remain,” the research brief noted. “Gun violence disproportionately affects many children of color, particularly Black children, and this disparity has grown in the light of the pandemic. “

Among the key takeaways from the report:

  • Overall trend:  The firearm death rate increased from 2.4 to 3.6 per 100,000, or seven children per day dying by firearm during 2021. This is a 50 percent increase from 2019 to 2021.
  • Leading causes:  Assaults accounted for more than half of all youth firearm deaths during the past decade. Suicides by firearm were responsible for about 3 in 10 deaths.
  • Demographics:  From 2018 through 2021, the rate of firearm-related deaths among Black youth increased from 6 to 12 per 100,000. For Hispanic youth, the rate went from 1.5 to 2.3 per 100,000. The report notes that the increases “were primarily driven by gun assaults and suicides by firearm.”
  • Notable difference:  From 2018 through 2021, male youth (5.8 per 100,000) were more than four times more likely than their female peers (1.3 per 100,000) to die by firearm.
  • Quotable:  “This comes at a time when, in general, concerns about youth mental health have grown but access to and utilization of mental health care may have worsened,” the report notes.

Hospitals in Pennsylvania and across the nation continue to focus on initiatives to address gun violence and to provide critical support for youth mental health. Learn more about the growing threat of gun violence and the urgency to address it.

The KFF Research Brief is available to review online.