Adolescent Firearm Homicides in Chicago, 2013–2017

Simran Chadha*, Suzanne McLone, Maryann Mason, Karen Sheehan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: This study aims to describe how firearm homicides among adolescents change over a five-year period. Methods: This serial cross-sectional analysis uses surveillance data collected by the Illinois Violent Death Reporting System. Decedent selection criteria included the following: manner of death was homicide, weapon type was firearm, age was 15–19 years, and location of fatal injury was Chicago. Data collected between 2013 and 2017 were used. Multiyear rates per 100,000 and rate ratios were calculated by sex and race/ethnicity. Joinpoint regression analysis and chi-squared tests of linear-by-linear association were used to identify trends over time (by year, month, and weekday). Geographic Information System mapping was used to visualize data. Results: There were 509 victims of firearm homicide aged 15–19 years in Chicago between 2013 and 2017. Overall rates were significantly higher in 2016 than in all other years. Victims were disproportionately black males, comprising 75.6% of total adolescent homicides and increasing by 87.8% across the five years. The rate ratio for black males versus all other adolescents peaked in 2015 at 19.4 (95% confidence interval, 10.9–34.6). For black males, the percentage of fatal injuries occurring on Saturdays and Sundays decreased significantly (p = .048). Among all victims, firearm deaths became less dispersed throughout Chicago, and “hot spots” shifted from the South Side to the West Side. Conclusions: Adolescent firearm homicides are increasing over time, however, in Chicago, a more accurate narrative would portray their consolidation with regard to spatial and racial/ethnic variances across the city. Such analyses define Chicago's firearm homicide epidemic and can shape targeted and effective interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)438-443
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2020


  • Adolescents
  • Epidemiology
  • Firearm
  • Homicides
  • Racial/ethnic disparities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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