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Firearm homicide, suicide rates rise above national averages in Memphis and Nashville

PHOTO: Pixbay

NASHVILLE, Tenn.--The firearm homicide and suicide rates in two of Tennessee's largest cities have seen a continued rate increase which are outpacing the national rates.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released the latest data for large metro areas reporting firearm homicide and suicide rates for 2015-2016. Utilizing the National Vital Statistics System data and U.S. Census Bureau data, the report finds large metro areas are reaching levels of firearm deaths not seen since 2006-2007.

Among the 50 largest metro areas, 43 (86%) reported rate increases when compared to 2012-2013 totals.

In Tennessee, Memphis reported a rate of 15 firearm deaths for every 100,000 persons from 2015-2016, well above the national average of 4.4 per 100,000. Among large metro areas, this was the second-highest rate in the nation. Only New Orleans reported a higher rate of 16.6 per 100,000. However, New Orleans showed a decrease in rate compared to 2012-2013 whereas Memphis rose 3.8 percentage points.

The suicide rate for the same time period in Memphis was 7.9 per 100,000 which is above the national average of 7.7.

The Nashville-Davidson, Murfreesboro, Franklin (Nashville-Davidson balance) has also seen increases above the national average, though not as significant as Memphis.

For 2015-2016, the area reported 4.8 firearm deaths per 100,000 and 10.2 firearm related suicides per 100,000 above the age of 10. Each are above national averages of 4.4 and 7.7, respectively. However, when compared to 2012-2013, each rate has grown by just 1.2 points and .6 points.

The CDC reports core cities of metro areas are showing a short term increase in violent crime. The agency says previous research shows remediation of abandoned buildings, greening activities, outreach programs, low-income housing tax credits and business improvement districts can have impacts in reducing violent crime.

Suicide rates have shown recent increases across all states and areas, not just core cities. The CDC says since the economic downturn of 2007-2008, rates showed an increase and continue to do so despite economic recovery.

Overall, the report states a likely factor in both homicide and suicide rates is access to a firearm. According to previous studies, the decision to harm yourself or another person take take as little as 10 minutes or less. Persons who make such decisions tend not to substitute use of a firearm when one is unavailable or difficult to access.

Based on the findings, the CDC says strengthening backround check systems, preventing those convicted of domestic violence access to firearms, and removing firearms from the home of those with suicidal risks are measures which could lead to lower rates.

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