Americans are dying in different ways than they used to. As of 2014, more were dying from drug use than in years past, even as deaths from alcohol had largely remained unchanged. Deaths resulting from interpersonal violence were on the decline, but fluctuations (and a recent increase) in deaths from suicide meant that violence was still a relatively common cause of death.
(…) An overall decline in violence-related deaths took off in the 1990s because of a precipitous decline in deaths from interpersonal violence, a category that includes5 assault, domestic violence and child abuse. However, a recent uptick in suicide has kept the combined category among the leading causes of death. Some of the decrease in mortality from interpersonal violence is the result of improvements in medicine that have increased survival rates after an incident.
Many of these deaths result from firearms, which are once again under increased scrutiny after 17 people were killed in a school shooting in Parkland, Florida. Mass casualty events understandably capture a lot of the headlines around gun violence in the U.S. But as FiveThirtyEight has explored previously,6 the majority of gun deaths are from suicide — categorized as “self-harm” in the institute’s data — a problem that has grown since the late 1990s.