DETROIT (WWJ) – The number one cause of death for young black Americans is murder.

That’s according to a new study which reports that if you add up all the deaths due to suicide, accidents, and disease — homicide is still the number one cause of death among black men.

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Black men are 6 times more likely to die as the result of murder, according to the report, and 7 times more likely to commit murder than their white counterparts. One eighth of the U.S. population is black, but one half of all homicide victims are black.

The article, which does not attempt to explain the ethnic disparities, reports young blacks reduced life expectancy of more than 6 years would be improved more from eliminating homicide than abolishing any other causes of death except cardiovascular disease or cancer.

“Death is inevitable, but premature death is not, including among young black men,” said Dr. Charles H. Hennekens, who compiled the statistics along with other researchers at Florida Atlantic University’s School of Medicine.

“This is a devastating epidemic,” he added.

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The researchers’ article, appearing in the American Journal of Medicine, also touches on the issue of the right to bear arms — reporting that, from 1999 to 2009, 91 percent of murders among black men involved guns.

Hennekens and his colleagues call this “a new American tragedy,” saying it’s urgent that doctors get involved in identifying any threat to public health, and bring their findings to legislators.

This report comes a few months after Detroit, with a population higher than 82 percent black (as of the 2010 Census), recorded its highest murder rate in nearly two decades.   The city had 386 criminal homicides in 2012, up about 12 percent from the previous year.

In releasing those statistics in January, Interim Police Chief Chester Logan said, “America has a gun problem but the epicenter seems to be here in Detroit.”

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View the full article as it appears in the American Journal of Medicine –