Over at The Washington Post, Todd Lindeman has crunched some numbers and put together an infographic organizing violence-related deaths by age.
One axis shows age, the other ranks the cause of death. If the deaths were homicides, the box is shaded brown; if they were suicides, the box is shaded blue. They’re also shaded more heavily if there’s a large number of deaths associated with that cause. So, for example, the leading cause of violence-related death for people ages 65 and above is suicide by firearm, and because there were more than 30,000 of those cases recorded between 1999 and 2007, it’s shaded dark blue.
Here’s what we can glean: The leading means of violence-related deaths are guns. For people ages 5 to 9 and 15 and above, it’s the No. 1 cause. (For children ages 10 to 14, suffocation is No. 1; for children under 4, the top cause is listed as “unspecified.”) Guns are also the second-highest cause of violent death among people ages 10 to 44. How can they be both first and second? Because, as mentioned above, Lindeman drew an important distinction between suicides and homicides. So while gun homicides are the leading cause of violent death for people ages 15 to 24, gun suicides are the second leading cause. For people ages 35 to 44, it’s reversed. And overall, there are far more suicides than homicides. The third leading cause of violent death across most age groups is suffocation (primarily by suicide).