The U.S. suffers far more violent deaths than any other wealthy nation, due in part to the widespread possession of firearms and the practice of storing them in the home, often in unlocked areas, according to a report released Wednesday by the National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine – two of the nation’s leading health institutions.
According to an article from The Associated Press, the U.S. has about six violent deaths per 100,000 residents. None of the 16 other countries included in the review came close to that ratio. Finland was closest, with slightly more than two violent deaths per 100,000 residents.
For years, Americans have been dying at younger ages than people in almost all other wealthy countries, and not just due to gun violence. According to AP, Americans consume the most calories among peer countries and get involved in more alcohol-related accidents. The U.S. also suffers higher rates of drug-related deaths, infant mortality and AIDS.
The result is that the life expectancy for U.S. men ranked the lowest among the 17 countries reviewed, at 75.6 years. U.S. women ranked second-lowest at 80.7 years. Countries reviewed, AP reports, include Canada, Japan, Australia and much of Western Europe.
According to the article, the nation’s health disadvantages have economic consequences – leading to higher costs to consumers and taxpayers as well as a workforce that remains less healthy than that of other high-income countries.
The researchers for the report reviewed an array of studies, estimating that homicide and suicide together account for about a quarter of the years of life lost for U.S. men compared to those in peer countries. Homicide is the second leading cause of death among adults and young adults aged 15-24, they note, and the large majority of those homicides involve firearms.
The researchers did note that there is little evidence that violent acts occur more frequently in the U.S. than elsewhere, but the lethality of the attacks stands out.
AP reports that the U.S. has the highest rate of firearm ownership among peer countries – 89 civilian-owned firearms for every 100 Americans. The report also states that the U.S. is home to about 35 to 50 percent of the world’s civilian-owned firearms.