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Rise in gun deaths among young men in Sweden

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Rise in gun deaths among young men in Sweden
Police attend a crime scene following a shooting in southern Stockholm. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT
14:47 CEST+02:00
The number of gun deaths among young men in Sweden was the highest it's been in 30 years in 2017, new statistics show.

Last year, a total of 26 men under the age of 30 died of gun-related injuries, new statistics from the National Board of Health and Welfare show. This figure is the highest it's been since 1987.

For a long time, the rate of deaths caused by violence and assault has been declining in Sweden, but from 2012 there has been a reversal in the trend with the proportion of such deaths starting to creep back up.

Gun deaths among men aged between 15 and 29 have been the most significant factor behind this rise, with the number significantly higher over the last three years than previously. In total, 2017 saw 37 deaths due to gun injuries among the general population.

When considering only men aged 15-29, the number of deaths due to gun injuries in 2017 was more than quadruple the average figure (six) for the period between 2000 and 2014.

Neither the National Board of Health and Welfare nor the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention (Brå) were able to provide figures for 2018 when contacted by The Local, and neither organization had information about how the cases were divided by region or demographic factors. However, Jesper Hörnblad, a commissioner at the National Board of Health and Welfare, said 2017 was not an anomaly.

"Over the past three years, it's been around the same level: in 2015, 2016, and 2017, there have been more cases than before, so it's not just an outlier, it's three years in a row that the number has been high," Hörnblad told The Local.

The National Board of Health and Welfare's statistics relating to deaths caused by assault by another person show a similar pattern.

Over the past ten years, these figures show that the murder rate among men aged 15-29 has increased, reaching a peak of 42 cases in 2017 (see the graph below). There were 26 such cases recorded in 2007, and between 2008 and 2013 the figure was under 20 each year. But this started increasing in 2014, with 21 such murders, followed by 39 in 2015 and 29 in 2016.

READ ALSO: Sweden's deadly violence stats for 2017

In Stockholm alone, 20 men aged between 15 and 30 died due to an attack by another person in 2017, whereas the figure had been below ten each year since 2007. In Västra Götaland there were nine such deaths, above the average for the past decade but below the peak of 2015 when 14 such cases were recorded. And in Skåne, there were also nine such deaths, down from ten the previous year but well above average.

One possible reason for the rise is an increased access to weapons, something Swedish police have tried to tackle with recent amnesties.

LONG READ: How Sweden is cracking down on illegal weapons

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