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Homicide Rates Among Young Men Rise Sharply

Increased 31% Among Black Men

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Although homicide rates overall have remained level in recent years, the gun-related homicide rates among young men have increased sharply in the United States, especially among black men, according to a study by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

According to the research, between 1999 and 2005, homicide involving firearms increased 31 percent among black men ages 25 to 44 and 12 percent among white men 25 to 44 years of age.

"The recent flatness of the U.S. homicide rate obscures the large increases in firearm death among males ages 25-44, especially black males," said Susan Baker, MPH, co-author of the study, in a news release.

Significant Increases in Gun Homicides

The overall homicide rate remained between 6.0 and 6.1 deaths per 100,000 from 1999 to 2005, except for an increase in 2001 attributed to the terrorist attacks of September 11, the authors said. However, researchers found significant increases in the rate of firearm homicide for white males ages 25 to 34 and for black males ages 25 to 44.

The increased rates were not uniform throughout the nation. Most of the gun-related homicide occurred in or near large metropolitan areas.

The most significant increases occurred in Alabama, California, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington. The other states did not see significant change, the research showed.

In Large Metropolitan Areas

"The increases in firearm homicide we measured were almost twice as high among blacks as among whites and they were mostly concentrated in central metropolitan and fringe metropolitan areas," said co-author Daniel Webster, ScD, MPH. "Further research is needed to ascertain the causes for recent increases in firearm homicides involving men living in urban area. Factors that may be influencing the homicide trends we observed include the number of people returning from prison as well as conditions unique to the particular age cohorts.

"For many black males in their 30's who grew up in inner cities this could include early exposure to lead and unusually high rates of gun homicides surrounding them during their adolescence," Webster said.

The study, "Hidden Homicide Increases in the U.S., 1999-2005" was published in the Online First edition of the Journal of Urban Health.

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