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July 10, 2001
Contact: CDC, National Center for Injury
Prevention & Control
(770) 488–4298

Press Release

International Report: Violence pervasive but preventable

Like victims of a deadly plague, more than 5,000 people worldwide die each day as a result of violence. "It is an unacceptable global public health problem that is preventable." says Avid Reza, primary author of a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) investigating patterns of violent deaths internationally.

"Epidemiology of violent deaths in the world" appears in the June issue of Injury Prevention. The report is the first of its kind to estimate rates of suicide, homicide and war-related deaths for the eight major regions of the world. The findings highlight patterns in violent deaths across regions of the world as well as providing an important benchmark for future global estimates of violent deaths.

Suicides represent more than 42 percent of all violence-related deaths in the world. Around the world, including in the United States, suicide is most prevalent among older males. Important factors that contribute to suicide are depression, social isolation, hopelessness, access to lethal weapons, and alcoholism. China is the only region of the world where female suicide rates exceed those of males.

More than 30 percent of violence-related deaths worldwide were homicides. The Sub-Saharan African, Latin American and the Caribbean regions have the highest homicide rates. The United States homicide rate which is atypically high for developed nations is as high as that of the top three regions combined. In most regions the impact of homicide is greatest on male adolescents and young adults. By contrast in the regions of China, Middle Eastern crescent, and India, the homicide rate is greatest for females 0 to 4 years of age.

Just over 27 percent of global violent deaths are war-related. In war-torn regions, children and females constitute a large proportion of deaths, illustrating the devastating health effects of war on civilians. War also disrupts health related services, further compromising the health of civilians in affected regions.

"The human and financial costs of violence are enormous" said Etienne Krug, Director, Violence and Injury Prevention Program, WHO. "WHO is committed to drawing attention to the need for increased prevention efforts. The release of the World Report on Violence in 2002 will be a tremendous step in that direction," he said.

CDC's Dr. James Mercy highlights the importance to every nation of a global strategy for violence prevention. "Acting locally on global information is an effective way to begin to affect this major public health issue. Collecting and analyzing information about violent deaths are essential to developing strategies to prevent them. The United States is developing a National Violent Death Reporting System to better determine the factors contributing to violence-related deaths in the US." These data will help states make informed decisions about local policies and programs, answer questions about the magnitude, trends, and characteristics of violent deaths, and evaluate the effectiveness of state and local violence prevention policies and programs.

"Just as what we've learned in the US is relevant to other nations, their effective violence prevention efforts can benefit the United States. With deaths from violence expected to increase over the next 20 years, it is essential that countries work together to gather and share knowledge," he said.

CDC and WHO provide technical support for countries worldwide through their International Violent Injury Surveillance & Prevention Program. The Inter-American Coalition for the Prevention of Violence ( is another violence-prevention partnership involving the CDC and WHO as well as the Pan American Health Organization, the Organization of American States, The World Bank, UNESCO and the Inter-American Development Bank. This coalition of international agencies assists countries in coordinating their efforts to prevent violence locally and nationally.

The authors encourage the establishment of an international network to share information and resources about violence prevention and to advocate for a global agenda to identify and prioritize research needs.

CDC protects people's health and safety by preventing and controlling diseases and injuries; enhances health decisions by providing credible information on critical health issues; and promotes healthy living through strong partnerships with local, national and international organizations.

Note to Editors: This report may be viewed online at:

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This page last reviewed July 10, 2001

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