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NYMC Researchers: Firearms Leading Cause of Potential Life Lost in U.S.

Between 2009 and 2018, Firearms Cost Americans 12.6 Million Years of Potential Life Lost, with Most Firearm Deaths Attributable to Suicides

May 15, 2023
Kartik Prabhakaran, M.D.
Kartik Prabhakaran, M.D.

For the study, the most recent data available from the annual National Vital Statistics Report of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) over ten years, 2009 to 2018, was analyzed to determine the magnitude of potential years of life lost to firearms and examine the evolution of firearm deaths based on sex, race and geographical location within the U.S. 

According to the study, since 2009, deaths by firearms have continued to rise and surpassed deaths by motor vehicle crashes in 2017. The researchers behind the study, which included Joshua Klein, D.O., clinical assistant professor of surgery, and Kartik Prabhakaran, M.D., clinical associate professor of surgery, calculated lives lost based on an average life expectancy of 80 years old – slightly higher than the 2020 average of 77 years.

“This study underscores the importance of increasing the healthcare community’s focus on injury prevention and resource allocation to mitigate the impact of firearm-related injuries,” said Dr. Prabhakaran. “We at New York Medical College and Westchester Medical Center are actively engaged on regional, state and national levels to promote awareness, partner with our communities and utilize our resources as institutions of advanced trauma care and higher education.”

White males, who accounted for the majority of gun deaths, lost the most potential years of life due to suicide by gun, with 4.95 million potential years lost during the 10-year study period. Black males lost 3.2 million potential years due to firearm homicide. While women were less likely to die by firearm, suicides by guns are on the rise, with women losing more than 867,000 years of potential life due to suicide.