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Where Murder Is Falling, and Rising

(Photo: Wonderlane)

Encouraging news via the Associated Press:

For the first time in almost half a century, homicide has fallen off the list of the nation’s top 15 causes of death.

In Mexico, meanwhile, the murder trend continues to move in the opposite direction:

During the first nine months of 2011, some 12,903 people were killed in drug-related violence—11% more than the killings during the same period in 2010, according to a database released by the Attorney General’s Office.
During [President Felipe] Calderón‘s five-year term so far, the official death toll stands at 47,515, although that figure does not include the toll from the past three months.

If the 11% increase in drug-related killings held during the last three months of 2011, that means some 16,953 people died during the whole of 2011—a staggering toll that is far higher than the rate of combat-related deaths in Afghanistan. Some 15,273 people died in drug-related violence in 2010, according to government figures.

One note worth considering: if U.S. homicide numbers included Puerto Rico, things wouldn’t look quite so rosy. Puerto Rico is experiencing a terrible murder wave, fueled by the island’s increasing importance as a drug-trafficking station. NationMaster has 2004 murder data that shows Puerto Rico with a rate of 20.3 per 100,000 compared to the U.S. rate of 5.9. Since then, the U.S. rate has ticked down while P.R. murders have jumped, this year hitting an all-time high