Homicides In Cities, Suicides In Towns, Study Says
September 14, 2006
By TINA A. BROWN, Courant Staff Writer
People who died violently in Connecticut cities are more likely to be victims of homicide than those who died outside the cities, who are more likely the victims of suicide, according to a study released Wednesday examining violent deaths in the state.
The study, released by the Injury Prevention Center at Connecticut Children's Medical Center, is based on data collected in 2004 from the office of the chief medical examiner. It examines the rate of violent deaths in Connecticut's 169 municipalities. The study compares the race, ethnicity and gender of those who died violent deaths in 2004.
Connecticut is one of 17 states that is tracking violent deaths much like the tracking of fatal traffic accidents nationally so lawmakers, police and public health agencies can create prevention campaigns and change laws, said Kevin Borrup, director of the violence-prevention program at the children's hospital.
Overall, the study examined 108 homicides and 296 suicides in 2004.
Statewide, according to the study, there were three times as many suicides in 2004 as homicides, or 12 suicides per 100,000 residents. The suicide victims were overwhelmingly male representing 14.1 males per 100,000 compared with 3.6 females per 100,000, the study says.
Those who commit suicide are most likely to be white representing 8.3 white persons per 100,000 residents, compared with 6.2 Hispanic persons per 100,000 and 5.2 black persons per 100,000. Suicide victims in Connecticut most likely died of gunshot wounds and strangulations at an equal rate in their homes in rural and suburban towns, such as Ashford, Chester, Kent, North Stonington, Canaan and Vernon, the study says. Nineteen percent of the suicide victims died as a result of poisoning, the study says.
Conversely, black men, age 20 to 24, were eight times more likely than any other group to die as the result of homicide, the study says. Sixty percent of all homicide victims died from gunshot wounds in their homes and on sidewalks in cities, such as Bridgeport, New Britain, Hartford, New Haven and New London. The homicide rate for this group was about 9.8 persons per 100,000 residents, the study says.
About 63 percent of all homicides involving juveniles and young adults occurred between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m. in July through September, the study says.
Borrup said the statistics are important because Connecticut spent about $7.6 million in 2004 treating gun-related injuries and 80 percent of those patients were uninsured or covered by Medicaid.
The prevention center hopes that local municipalities, police departments and state agencies will use the study to create prevention programs, said Dr. Leonard Banco, vice president of strategic planning for Connecticut Children's Medical Center.
The rates of homicide and suicides can be alarming to some people, Banco said,
"The good news is that our rates are lower than the national average. I hope people will take note and try to do something about it."
Faith Vos Winkel, the assistant child advocate and child fatality coordinator for the state, and Margie Hudson, the injury prevention coordinator for the state Department of Public Health, were at the presentation Wednesday. They said the numbers weren't surprising.
Vos Winkel said, for example, that her office is working to reduce the state's suicide rate by creating programs to support children and youths who are at risk. "There is room for improvements in the area of mental health in particular," she said.
"A lot of this is familiar to me," said Hudson, adding that public awareness campaigns about suicides lag behind the statistics. "We are not doing a very good job getting it out because of the stigma. We have to get better at it," Hudson said.
Hudson said the state relies on crisis hot lines, police department and emergency mental health teams to respond to suicides and suicide attempts.
Hudson said the state must create programs addressing the mental health needs of the targeted communities. If the state were to create a program about the most affected group of suicide victims, for example, she said it would need to reach adult white males.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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