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November 11, 1988

Violence Increasingly Being Viewed as Problem of Public Health; Prevention Programs Attempted

JAMA. 1988;260(18):2621-2625. doi:10.1001/jama.1988.03410180017004

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VIOLENCE HAS become so commonplace, saturating news reports and filling television and movie screens, that it may be easy to become inured to it, leaving the problem to the communities in which it occurs and to the police and criminal justice system. But researchers in Boston are adding their voices to those that say violence is also a medical problem (JAMA 1985;254:721-730, 881-892).

They cite the following as evidence of the medical impact of interpersonal violence:

  • It is the second leading cause of death for all 15- to 24-year-olds in the United States.

  • It is the fourth leading cause of potential years of life lost.

  • In 1980, it accounted for 350 000 hospitalizations and 1.5 million hospital days and for $640 million in health care costs.

These numbers do not reflect primarily premeditated murders or loss of life when a mentally ill person suddenly acts violently.