ANCHORAGE (KTUU) -
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Data is sourced from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The gun death rate for 2016 was calculated by taking the number of people who died by firearm per each state, dividing by the state's population and then multiplying by 100,000. This produces a crude rate.
Next, an additional step is taken to turn the crude rate into an age-adjusted rate, which means a "standard" population distribution is used to help compare different groups.
Firearm death is inclusive to all people that experienced death by firearm. By definition, both suicide and homicide, by guns, qualify as firearm deaths.
After ranking first in the nation for firearm deaths in 2015, Alaska once again took the top spot on a nationwide list for 2016.
The figures were released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – the leading national public health institute of the United States, which monitors various causes of death in the country.
CDC's nationwide account of firearm deaths includes all people who died from a firearm, including suicide, homicide and unintentional (other) deaths.
During the 2016 calendar year, the age-adjusted death rate in Alaska came in at 23.3 deaths per 100,000 people. In 2015, that number was roughly the same, at 23.4. Comparing reports from 2016 to 2015, the same number of people died by firearms in Alaska, at 177 total deaths. So the firearm death rate changed slightly with the state's population.
Alaska's firearm death rate of 23.3 dwarfed the national average by almost doubling it. Last year's U.S. average was 11.8 deaths per 100,000.
On the other end of the spectrum, the state with the lowest firearm death rate was Massachusetts, which had 3.4 deaths per 100,000. Massachusetts was also the lowest in 2015, with a rate of 2.99.
Many gun-related deaths in 2016 were attributed to suicide. In Alaska, 63.8 percent – 113 deaths – relate back to suicide, while 25.4 percent – 45 deaths – related back to homicide.
In separate studies, the CDC also tracks statistics on U.S. homicide mortality and suicide mortality. For these two specific reports, it should be noted that the CDC does not distinguish between incidents that involved firearms and those that did not involve firearms.
When comparing states in 2016, Alaska ranked second highest in the nation for its suicide death rate, and 16th highest for its homicide death rate. Both of these Alaskan death rates surpassed the national averages in their categories.
Figures for 2017 are not available yet, as there is a delay in computation of national statistics.