Gun violence in the United States caused the life expectancy of African Americans to drop by more than four years from 2000 to 2016, twice as much as the decline in life expectancy of white Americans during the same period, according to a new academic study.
Black Americans lost 4.14 years of average life expectancy due to gun violence — both homicide and suicide — while white Americans lost 2.23 years to those causes of death, according to the study by Boston University and published on Tuesday in the BMJ medical journal.
However, the study found that life expectancy loss due to suicide was higher in whites, who lost 1.62 years while blacks lost just over a half year.
The study used data gathered from the US Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to examine race-specific life expectancy loss in the United States related to firearms.
Bindu Kalesan, an author of the study and a professor at the Boston University School of Medicine, said in a statement that understanding how gun violence affects people of races may help with the development of more effective prevention programs.
“The magnitude of it was very stark,” Kalesan said. “They’re dying very young,” she added.
She said the study is the first of its kind to assess the gravity of firearm mortality among blacks.
Suicides by gun occurred mainly among older white Americans, researchers found, limiting its negative impact.
A sharp drop in life expectancy occurred around age 20 among both black Americans and white Americans, the study showed. For black people under the age of 20, assaults with firearms were to blame. For white Americans above the age of 20, the drop was driven by suicides by gun.
The United States loses around 33,000 people to gun violence every year, mostly in the form of suicide.
The CDC reported last week that life expectancy in the US dropped yet again in 2017, mainly as a result of drug overdose deaths and suicides.
The average life span in America dropped to 78.6 years last year, a decrease of 0.1 year from 2016, said the report.
Overall, the statistics show a “downward trend in life expectancy since 2014,” a time period in which Americans have lost 0.3 years of life, said Robert Anderson, chief of the mortality statistics branch at the CDC.