In light of the tragedy in Newtown and the contested ban on concealed weapons, the Illinois Department of Public Health issued a directive to its County Health Departments to conduct an analysis of the role of homicides and suicides in their community. I did this project with the Winnebago County Health Department (where I’m from) from January to March 2013. Many thanks goes to WCHD, the Rockford Police Department, and the Illinois State Police.
The report has been published with the Winnebago County Health Department and can be found here. Below are the slides I used to deliver a talk to the Winnebago County Board of Health.
Title: Trends and Disparities in Homicides and Suicides in Winnebago County from 1968-2010
Suicides and homicides are the second and third leading causes of death, respectively, among teenagers and young adults aged 15-24 in Illinois, highlighting the need for studies and analysis on the risk and cultural factors contributing to this phenomenon. This report intends to investigate and identify key trends and demographics in homicides and suicides in Winnebago County. Detailed and compressed mortality records from 1968 to 2010 procured through from the CDC Wide-ranging Online Data for Epidemiologic Research (WONDER) database were analyzed, along with supplemental information from the Illinois State and Rockford Police Departments to gain a picture of violent crimes in Winnebago County. Most importantly, young adults aged 15-34 are more susceptible to gun violence, reflecting a social issue that must be addressed. Additionally racial disparities in homicides are even further pronounced in Winnebago than within the rest of the US. Young African American males aged 15-24 are the most dramatic risk group, being more than 6 times as likely to fall victim to a homicide than the average. Furthermore, the proportion of homicides involving firearms has risen dramatically since the late ‘80s and early ‘90s from 53% to 67%.Many homicides are concentrated on the West Side and Downtown regions of Rockford. For suicides, Winnebago County’s average rate from 2006-2010 is significantly higher than the Illinois average but is significantly lower than the national rate. Caucasians are more than twice as likely to commit suicide as any other race, with middle-aged men aged 35-44 as a major risk group. Furthermore, over the past decade, there has been an upward trend in suicide by drug overdose and hanging, in comparison with a decrease in other techniques. While far from a comprehensive survey of violence in Winnebago County, the authors hope that this report will inform future intervention in and studies on suicides and homicides and their disparities.