US Surgeon General declares gun violence a public health crisis

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The US Surgeon General declared gun violence in the country a public health crisis on Tuesday, calling on Americans to act to prevent rising firearm-related deaths and its cascading effects, particularly on Black Americans and other communities.

In the first-ever public health advisory on gun violence, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy outlined what he called devastating and far-reaching consequences on the public’s well-being and called for more research funding, better mental health access and other steps such as secure storage to reduce harm.

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“Firearm violence is an urgent public health crisis that has led to loss of life, unimaginable pain, and profound grief for far too many Americans,” he said.

The rate of firearm-related deaths has been steadily rising, Murthy warned, with more than half of those in 2022 driven by suicides followed by homicides and accidental deaths. It is the leading cause of death among US children and adolescents.

Studies have shown the increase in firearm-related fatalities among US youth has taken a disproportionate toll on Black communities.

Gun violence has also created additional harm as more US adults report worrying about themselves or a loved one becoming a victim, which “leads to cascading harm across society,” Murthy wrote, citing data from a 2023 KFF survey.

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