By Maya Rhodan
November 6, 2017

Firearm-related deaths rose for the second-straight year in 2016, largely due to spikes in gun violence in major cities like Chicago, newly released data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found.

In 2016, there were more than 38,000 gun-related deaths in the U.S. — 4,000 more than 2015, the new CDC report on preliminary mortality data shows. Most gun-related deaths — about two-thirds —in America are suicides, but an Associated Press analysis of FBI data shows there were about 11,000 gun-related homicides in 2016, up from 9,600 in 2015. The increase in gun-related deaths follows a nearly 15-year period of relative stasis.

“The fact that we are seeing increases in the firearm-related deaths after a long period where it has been stable is concerning,” Bob Anderson, chief of mortality statistics at the CDC’s Center for Health Statistics, told the New York Times. Fortune reported last week that the mortality data also showed an increase in drug-overdose deaths, largely do to the ongoing opioid epidemic.

In the wake of Sunday’s mass shooting at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland, statistics on guns and gun-related deaths are bound to come up as the nation yet again struggles to understand what led to the deaths of 26 people, including children as young as 18-months-old, and how to keep future events like this from occurring.

Less than 24 hours after the Texas shooting, the all-too-familiar pattern has already begun to unfold. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have offered their condolences to the families and prayers to those recovering. Many Democrats immediately began demanding gun-safety measures, and President Donald Trump said the shooting was prompted by a “mental health situation,” and wasn’t about firearms.

“We have a lot of mental health problems in our country, as do other countries,” Trump said. “But this isn’t a guns situation.”

Trump’s statement comes after he rescinded a rule that would have made it more difficult for the mentally ill to buy weapons earlier this year. The Department of Health and Human Services also says that only “3-5% of violent acts can be attributed to individuals living with a serious mental illness.” That’s not to say mental illness is not a factor. About 90% of those who die as a result of suicide experience some type of mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and access to firearms is listed among the group’s risk factors for suicide.

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