NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

The Toll of Global Violence

October 3, 2002

The World Health Organization's (WHO) new report, "World Report on Violence and Health," finds that violence around the world killed 1.6 million people in 2000 -- matching the death rate for tuberculosis and surpassing malaria. The report includes data on physical and sexual assaults, shootings, suicide and war in the 70 countries that report such data to the WHO.

  • Researchers found that violent fatalities represent about 3 percent of all deaths.
  • Suicide accounted for 50 percent of the violent deaths, homicide for 30 percent and war for 20 percent.
  • A great deal of violence is never reported to the police -- even in the U.S. -- and is not included in the statistics.
  • Moreover, many troubled and war-torn countries do not share data with the WHO and were not included in the figures.

The highest suicide rates were found in Eastern Europe, in regions undergoing political and economic upheaval, and in areas plagued by alcoholism.

More women are hurt or killed by someone they know, and more men are attacked by strangers.

Researchers who compiled the data hope to encourage health agencies around the world to treat violence as a public-health issue.

Source: Rachel Zimmerman, "Study Finds Violence Takes 1.6 Million Lives a Year," Wall Street Journal, October 3, 2002.

For WHO text


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