After 15 years of seeing no significant shift, the rate of gun deaths in the United States increased for the second year in a row in 2016, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Firearm deaths rose to 12 deaths per 100,000 people in 2016, up from 11 per 100,000 the previous year. Before that, the rate had remained pretty steady at around 10 per 100,000 since the late 1990s. The rate still isn’t as high as during the early 1990s, when it was 15 per 100,000 but experts are worried about the trend.
“The fact that we are seeing increases in the firearm-related deaths after a long period where it has been stable is concerning,” Bob Anderson, head of the mortality statistics branch at the health statistics center, told the New York Times. “It is a pretty sharp increase for one year.” There are also hints the increase could continue in 2017 as preliminary data from the first three months of the year also show an upward trend.
In total, there were around 38,000 gun deaths last year, roughly two-thirds of which were considered suicide. The suicide numbers had been increasing for the last decade, but those numbers balanced out because gun-related homicides were decreasing. Now those are increasing too.
As troubling as the gun deaths statistics are, they are tiny compared to drug deaths, which soared 21 percent last year. The rate of drug overdoses in 2016 was 20 out of 100,000, that marks a huge increase from 16.3 per 100,000 a year earlier, according to the CDC data. That, of course, still doesn’t come close to the death rate for cancer—185 per 100,000—and heart disease—196 per 100,000.