Homicide is no longer one of the top 15 causes of death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”).
Homicide fell off the list for the first time since 1965. The number of deaths resulting from pneumonitis, an illness is seen primarily in the elderly, has surpassed the number of deaths resulting from homicide. Pneumonitis occurs when food or vomit goes down the windpipe causing damage to the lungs. It is not related to pneumonia.
The list, released on January 11, shows two significant trends worth noting. First, the murder rate is down, and second, deaths from certain diseases are on the rise as the age of the population increases.
Other Homicide trends worth noting include:
- A drop in the infant mortality rate, from 6.39 deaths per 1,000 births to 6.14,
- An increase in life expectancy for a child born in 2010 to 78 years and eight months (an increase of a little more than a month from the previous year),
- Both heart disease and cancer remained the leading cause of death accounting for nearly 1.2 million deaths (half of the total deaths) nationwide in 2010; however, death rates have been declining for both,
- Death rates for the other five leading causes for death also dropped (these include stroke, chronic lower respiratory diseases, accidents, flu/pneumonia, and blood infections),
- And lastly, death rates increased for Alzheimers (ranking number 6 on the list), kidney disease (number 8), chronic liver disease and cirrhosis (number 12), Parkinson’s disease (number 14), and pneumonitis.
The CDC compiled their list based on 98 percent of death certificates filed in the U.S. in 2010.
The government has been keeping records of the top causes of death since 1949. Homicide has only once been in the top 10 causes of death, ranking in at number 10 in 1989, and in 1991-1993. The spike of murders in the late ’80s and early ’90s was due to a surge in youth deaths due to the crack epidemic.
One reason given for the drop in homicide rate is abusive relationships are not ending in murder as frequently as they once did. This can be due to incarceration and earlier support for victims.
“We’ve taken the home out of homicide,” states James Alan Fox, a Northeastern University criminologist who studies murder data.
Other reasons for the drop include better police work and public health programs whose goal is to reduce violence.
Younger people make up a smaller share of the population. These younger people are the ones most likely to commit or fall victim to homicide.
“The risk of homicide declines with age, and the risk of death by disease increases,” Fox said.
With better treatments for heart disease and cancers, the list could soon have a new leader.
“In previous years, someone with both heart disease and Parkinson’s would have been more likely to have died from heart disease. Now with better treatment, they die from Parkinson’s instead,” Robert Anderson, the overseer of the CDC report, stated.
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