Washington, D.C., July 5, 2022 – Firearm deaths due to physical violence dominate homicides in the United States and are anywhere from 8 to 97 times higher per 100k population compared to other countries in the Core Anglosphere and Europe with similar per capita GDP and Internet penetration levels. On the other hand, the USA has higher mental wellbeing and lower levels of self-reported feelings of aggression than many of these countries. When viewed together, across these countries, neither the rates of mental distress nor self reported aggression correlate with firearm death due to physical violence. This lack of correlation suggests that improving mental health is unlikely to have any systematic impact on firearm homicide rates, although may impact other factors such as rates of sexual assault that have been shown to have strong correlations to mental health in the 2021 Mental State of the World Report. We note that the rate of civilian gun ownership across these same countries is significantly correlated with firearm homicide rates. One possible interpretation is thus that while those who commit firearm homicide are clearly mentally distressed or disturbed, those who are mentally distressed are not likely to commit firearm homicide unless there is an easy availability and cultural permissiveness surrounding firearms.
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