Year: 2023 Source: MMWR Supplement. (2023). 72(Suppl-1), 22–28. DOI: SIEC No: 20231469
Community violence, including homicides involving firearms, is a significant public health concern. From 2019 to 2020, firearm-related homicides increased by 39% for youths and young adults aged 10–24 years, and rates of suicide by firearm increased by approximately 15% among the same age group. Findings from the nationally representative 2021 Youth Risk Behavior Survey were used to analyze disparities and correlates of witnessing community violence and gun carrying among a nationally representative sample of high school students. Chi-square tests and logistic regression accounting for the complex sampling of the survey were used to assess demographic differences by student sex, race and ethnicity, age, and sexual identity in ever witnessing community violence, gun carrying in the past 12 months, and their associations with substance use and suicide risk. Measures of substance use included current binge drinking and marijuana use and lifetime prescription opioid misuse and illicit drug use. Suicide risk included seriously considered attempting suicide and attempted suicide in the past 12 months. Overall, approximately 20% of students witnessed community violence and 3.5% of students carried a gun. American Indian or Alaska Native, Black, and Hispanic students were more likely to witness community violence and to report carrying a gun than their White peers. Males were more likely to witness community violence and carry a gun than females. Lesbian, gay, or bisexual students were more likely to witness community violence than their heterosexual peers. Also, witnessing community violence consistently was associated with increased odds of gun carrying, substance use, and suicide risk for both males and females and when comparing Black, White, and Hispanic students. These findings highlight the importance of comprehensive violence prevention strategies that incorporate health equity to mitigate the effects of violence exposure on substance use and suicide risk among youths.