Bringing Violence under Control: Solutions to Violence Include Educational and Social Opportunities

Article excerpt

Violence claims the lives of more than a million people every year and leaves many more with physical and emotional scars. But gang violence and other homicides are not the main problem, according to researchers. Nearly half of all violent deaths in 2000 were suicides, while fewer than a third were homicides; only a fifth were directly related to war.

A global report by the World Health Organization also shows that patterns of violence vary across regions and countries. The vast majority of violent deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, with rates per 100,000 double those of high-income countries. In most regions, suicides outnumber homicides. In Europe, for example, the rate of suicides to homicides is more than 2 to 1, while in the Western Pacific, the ratio is 7 to 1. In contrast, there are nearly three homicides for every suicide in Africa and the Americas.

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Rates of violent death are much higher for men than for women in every part of the world. More than three-fourths of all deaths from violence in 2000 were of men, with males aged 15 to 29 being the hardest hit.

Experts point to a long list of factors that contribute to suicide among young people, including lack of preparation for dealing with problems, repressive parenting, poor employment opportunities, lack of services for high-risk youths, and broken families. Psychological distress in the wake of natural disasters may also raise suicide rates. A Taiwanese study reported in the International Journal of Epidemiology revealed that victims of a 1999 earthquake were one and a half times more likely to commit suicide than non-victims.

Research shows that the availability of handguns and pesticides also contributes to suicide rates. The Taiwanese study estimates that there are up to 30,000 pesticide suicides in China and southeast Asia annually. …