Homicide Is the Biggest Contributor to Years of Lost Life Among African Americans

In a revealing new study conducted by researchers at the Indiana University School of Public Health in Bloomington, it was established that homicide is the largest contributor to potential years of life lost among Black Americans. In contrast, homicide was only the 12th highest contributor to potential years of loss life for White Americans.

The study reviewed all deaths of White and Black Americans in 2015 and calculated the potential years of life lost for each of 31 causes of death. By reviewing potential years of life lost instead of simply number of annual deaths, the study was better able to capture the loss of human potential as well as the burden of premature deaths. The average age of Black homicide victims was 31. The more than 2.7 million deaths in the U.S. in 2015 tallied up to nearly 21.4 million potential years of life lost. Black Americans accounted for 20 percent of these years despite representing only 13 percent of the U.S. population.

Molly Rosenberg, lead author of the study and an assistant professor in the School of Public Health, stated that “homicide-related deaths in America, most of which are caused by firearms, constitute a public health crisis. Yet when we look at what kind of public health research gets funded and published, we find homicide to be conspicuously absent. The top causes of death that impact the health of white Americans, on the other hand, are much better represented in public health research and funding.”

The full study, “Do Black Lives Matter in Public Health Research and Training?” was published on PLOS One. It may be found here.


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