AMA Journal of Ethics®

January 2018, Volume 20, Number 1: 25-28


Violence as a Public Health Crisis Violence, overall, has become a public health crisis. The three leading causes of death in the United States for people ages 15-34 are unintentional injury, suicide, and homicide [1]. These violent deaths are, more often than not, directly associated with firearms. The US has a homicide rate 7 times higher than other high-income countries, with homicides committed by firearms being 25 times higher than in other high-income countries [2]. According to the National Violent Death Reporting System, violence is preventable [3]. Supportive relationships can decrease violent behaviors and disrupt a “cycle of violence” [4]. Education on life skills and conflict resolution at an early age can also prevent violence [5]. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states, “By understanding … types of violence, we can take action to stop them before they start in our communities” [6].

This issue of the AMA Journal of Ethics examines the scope of physicians’ duty to support and counsel patients afflicted by any form of violence, as well as other ethical questions raised in the course of responding to victims of violence and preventing violence. The case commentaries and articles are meant to increase readers’ awareness of, and to provide guidance on, violence as an epidemic with features of ethical, clinical, and public health relevance.

To read the entire article, click on this link: Violence as a Public Health Crisis