A new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine claims to have discovered marked geographical disparities between the homicide and suicide rates among black and white men.
Researchers compiled data on homicides and suicides committed with guns in all fifty states, focusing specifically on non-Hispanic black and white males.
They found significant differences between the two demographics. In gun-related incidents, black men are more likely to die in homicides while white men are more likely to die in suicides.
But while they found no geographical trends related to homicides, 6 of the top 10 states with the highest gun-related suicide rates among whites are located in the south and the other four are located in the west. Northern and eastern states boast the lowest suicide rates among white men.
“The most surprising thing to me when I was conducting the analysis was how different the rates were across states,” Corinne Riddell, a postdoctoral researcher at McGill University in Canada who was the lead author of the study.
“We knew going into it that whites would have a higher rate of suicide and that black men would have a higher rate of homicide, but to see that level of variation in the rates across states was surprising,” she said. “Any time I see variations so large like that, that can’t be due to chance. I want to know why the differences exist.”
Unfortunately, the limitations of the study do not allow researchers to answer Riddell’s question.