EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – As the nation mourns the aftermath of the recent horrific mass shootings, a New Mexico State University researcher has found that firearm deaths involving American youths have rapidly increased across the United States over the past decade.

The finding comes from an extensive analysis of federal firearm mortality data conducted by Jagdish Khubchandani, professor of public health sciences at NMSU, and James H. Price, professor emeritus of health education and public health at the University of Toledo.

According to the study, twenty-six states saw a significant increase in youth firearm deaths over the past decade. Youth firearm mortality rates have skyrocketed by 70% percent in South Carolina, Arkansas, Colorado, Ohio, Kansas, Texas and Indiana. Rates in New York, California, New Jersey and Pennsylvania showed a decline. However, the rate in New Mexico jumped by 45%.

The study also showed youth firearm deaths increase in the South by 52% and decrease in Northeast by 28%. Youth firearm suicides also spiked by 63% during the same period, and firearm deaths involving female youths grew by 46%.

In previous studies published throughout the pandemic, Khubchandani and his collaborators found that the rates of depression and anxiety among Americans have increased exponentially. Firearm sales in the U.S. have also reached an all-time high.

Khubchandani said the latest evidence on injury-related deaths indicates that firearms are now the leading cause of death in children.

According to research examined by Khubchandani in 2019, three of the top 10 leading causes of death for children 1 to 12 years old were unintentional injuries, homicides and suicides. In each case, firearms were the leading cause of death. In the same year, the top three leading causes of death for teens 13 to 19 years old were unintentional injuries, suicides and homicides, with a majority caused by firearms.

“Recent school shootings have been devastating for communities and families, but we must also consider firearm deaths in children and adults at a much broader level,” Khubchandani said. “The vast majority of youth firearm deaths occur away from schools, with nearly 10 children dying of firearms in communities every day. We must take a comprehensive approach with firearm mortality prevention practices and policies.”

To read the study, visit https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2667036422000012.

For local and breaking news, sports, weather alerts, video and more, download the FREE KTSM 9 News App from the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store