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New MetroHealth study calculates rates of death from firearms and drug overdoses in U.S.

The study was conducted by a MetroHealth Medical Center physician.
Credit: 3News

CLEVELAND — A new study published in the American Journal of Medicine conducted by a physician at MetroHealth Medical Center is calculating the future risk of death from firearms and drug overdoses in the U.S.

According to Dr. Ashwini Sehgal, who is also a Professor of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University, one out of every 100 American children will die from firearms and one out of every 70 will die from drug overdoses if current trends continue. 

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While those are staggering numbers, the lifetime risks are dependent on who you are and where you live.

According to the study, the lifetime risk of firearm death is highest among Black boys, with one out of every 40 projected to die from a gunshot.

The lifetime risk of dying from a drug overdose is highest in West Virginia, based on data from 2018, where one out of every 30 children will die of an OD.

"While absolute numbers of deaths and annual death rates describe mortality over a short period of time, lifetime risk tells us more about long-term consequences," Dr. Sehgal states. 

Dr. Sehgal used current data trends to calculate the lifetime risks of death. The lifetime risk of death from firearms resulted in about 1%, or about 1 out of every 100 children based on the current trend. The lifetime risk of dying from a drug overdose is 1.5%, or one out of every 70 children.

By presenting information on lifetime risks, Dr. Sehgal believes the general public and policy makes may find the data to be more sobering and lead to reduced exposure in the future. 

According to the study, firearm deaths in the U.S. are six times more common than in Canada and 50 times that of the rate in the United Kingdom.

"But it does not have to be that way," Dr. Sehgal claims. "The big difference in firearm and overdose deaths by race, gender, state, and country, and the sizable changers over time indicate that high levels of firearm and overdose deaths are not inevitable. Let's take sensible steps now to help our children avoid the preventable tragedies of firearm and overdose deaths."

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