Gun deaths among children and adolescents continued to rise in 2021, particularly among Black youth, a new KFF analysis of federal injury and mortality data finds.
The analysis finds that the rate of firearm-related deaths for children ages 17 and younger reached 3.6 per 100,000 children in 2021, a 50% increase from before the COVID-19 pandemic began. This represents about seven children dying each day due to firearms.
The rate of firearm-related deaths among Black youth was 12.0 per 100,000 – six times higher than White youth and substantially higher than any other racial and ethnic group. Although Black children made up 14% of the nation’s children in 2021, they accounted for 46% of youth firearm deaths.
While most child firearm deaths stem from assaults, the number of firearms-related deaths by suicide is on the rise, climbing from 657 in 2019 to 827 in 2021. At the same time, youth suicide deaths by other means have declined in recent years. As a result, nearly half (47%) of all youth suicides now involve firearms, the analysis finds.
The analysis also examines the negative mental health consequences for children and youth stemming from exposure to gun violence and describes recent policy changes aimed at addressing them.