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18.9.2021 : 10:00 : +0200

Non-conflict Deaths


Intentional homicides account for most non-conflict violent deaths. In an intentional homicide, the perpetrator purposefully aims to cause the death of a victim. That label captures a wide range of violent acts:

  • interpersonal violence.
  • domestic disputes that end in a killing.
  • violent conflicts over land, resources, grazing, or water rights.
  • inter-gang clashes over turf or control.
  • predatory violence and killing by armed groups.

A 2008 study by the Geneva Declaration Secretariat estimates that approximately 490,000 people died in homicidal violence in 2004. Trend data analysed in the study shows few increases in homicide rates since the late 1990s. The majority of subregions examined show flat or slightly increasing or decreasing trends.



The World Health Organization defines suicide as the act of deliberately killing oneself. Risk factors for suicide include mental disorder (such as depression, personality disorder, alcohol dependence, or schizophrenia) and some physical illnesses, such as neurological disorders, cancer, and HIV infection.

The best empirical evidence concerning the possible association between gun availability and suicide currently comes from case-control studies, all of which indicate that:

  • A gun in the home is significantly associated with a higher risk of firearm suicide.
  • Teenagers are seen as more likely to act impulsively; consequently, they are considered more at risk of committing suicide if they can access a firearm.


Extrajudicial Killings

Extrajudicial killings are broadly defined as the illegitimate use of fatal armed violence by agents of the state against its citizens. They may result from the deliberate, illegal, and excessive use of force by the police, security forces, or other state actors against criminal suspects, detainees, prisoners, or other individuals or groups, and can also include murders committed by private groups, if instigated by the government.

  • In 2006, at least 12 countries unaffected by war recorded more than 50 extrajudicial killings, with most not being captured in typical surveillance systems.
  • In 2006, a high proportion of armed violence by agents of the state was concentrated in just over 30 countries.


Small Arms Survey Publications

  • Gender Counts: Assessing Global Armed Violence Datasets for Gender Relevance, by Anna Alvazzi del Frate, Gergely Hideg, and Emile LeBrun. Briefing Paper. March 2020. (Also available in French)

    Download (724.31 KB)
  • Darkening Horizons: Global Violent Deaths Scenarios, 2018–30, by Gergely Hideg and Anna Alvazzi del Frate. Briefing Paper, May 2019.

    Download (853.5 KB)
  • Firearms and Violent Deaths, October 2016. Research Note No. 60.

    Download (439.44 KB)
  • Monitoring Trends in Violent Deaths, September 2016. Research Note No. 59.

    Download (1.92 MB)
  • Global Burden of Armed Violence 2015: Every Body Counts, by the Geneva Declaration Secretariat. Published by Cambridge University Press. May 2015.

    More information
  • Every Body Counts: Measuring Violent Deaths, March 2015. Research Note No. 49, Armed Violence.

    Download (708.5 KB)
  • Firearm Suicides, August 2014. Research Note No. 44, Armed Violence.

    Download (235.32 KB)
  • Battering, Rape, and Lethal Violence: A Baseline of Information on Physical Threats against Women in Nairobi, by Claire Mc Evoy, December 2012. Working Paper No. 13

    Download (771.48 KB)
  • Tracking National Homicide Rates: Generating Estimates Using Vital Registration Data, November 2012. Armed Violence Issue Brief No. 1 (see also Annexe 1, Annexe 2, Annexe 3).

    Download (998.61 KB)
  • Guatemala en la encrucijada. Panorama de una violencia transformada (in Spanish), by the Geneva Declaration Secretariat, CERAC, and the Small Arms Survey (Executive Summary in English and Spanish, and Press Release in English and Spanish also available). Published by the Geneva Declaration Secretariat and CERAC.

  • Confronting the Don: The Political Economy of Gang Violence in Jamaica, by Glaister Leslie, November 2010. Occasional Paper No. 26

    Download (1.19 MB)
  • Assessing the Effect of Policy Interventions on Small Arms Demand in Bogotá, Colombia, by Katherine Aguirre et al., co-published with CERAC, December 2009.

    Download (2.92 MB)
  • Small Arms in Rio de Janeiro: The Guns, the Buyback, and the Victims, by Pablo Dreyfus, Luis Eduardo Guedes, Ben Lessing, Antônio Rangel Bandeira, Marcelo de Sousa Nascimento, and Patricia Silveira Rivero, a study by the Small Arms Survey, Viva Rio, and ISER, December 2008. Special Report No. 9

    Download (980.37 KB)
  • Global Burden of Armed Violence 2008, by the Geneva Declaration Secretariat, September 2008.

  • Small Arms in the Pacific, by Philip Alpers and Conor Twyford, March 2003. Occasional Paper No. 8

    Download (855.71 KB)
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Other Publications

  • Ajdacic-Gross, V. et al. 2010. Firearm suicides and availability of firearms: The Swiss experience. European Psychiatry, Vol. 25, No. 7. November, pp.

    More information
  • Hepp, U., et al. 2010. Suicide trends diverge by method: Swiss suicide rates 1969–2005. European Psychiatry, Vol. 25, No. 3 April, pp. 129–35.

    More information
  • Bruce, David. 2010. The ones in the pile were the ones going down: The reliability of violent crime statistics. South Africa Crime Quarterly, No 31. March.

  • Amnesty International. 2009. Killing at Will: Extrajudicial Executions and Unlawful Killings by the Police in Nigeria. London: Amnesty International.

  • Cole, Julio H. and Andrés Marroquin Gramajo. 2009. Homicide Rates in a Cross-Section of Countries: Evidence and Interpretations. Population and Development Review. No. 35, Vol. 4, pp. 749-776.

  • Collier, Paul and Anke Hoeffler. 2004. Murder by Numbers: Socio-Economic Determinants of Homicide and Civil War. Working Paper. Oxford: Centre for the Study of African Economies.

  • Miller, Matthew, Deborah Azrael, and David Hemenway. 2002. Household Firearm Ownership and Suicide Rates in the United States. Epidemiology, Vol. 13, No. 5. September, pp. 517-524.

    More information
  • Fajnzylber, Pablo, Daniel Lederman, and Norman Loayza. 2002. What Causes Violent Crime? European Economic Review. Vol. 46, No. 7. pp 1323–1357.

  • Miller, Matthew and David Hemenway. 1999. The Relationship between Firearms and Suicide: A Review of the Literature. Aggression and Violent Behavior, Vol. 4, No. 1, pp. 59–75.

    More information
  • Krug, E.G, K.E. Powell, and L.L. Dahlberg. 1998. Firearm-related deaths in the United States and 35 other high- and upper-middle-income countries. International Journal of Epidemiology, Vol. 27, No. 2. April, pp. 214-221.

    More information
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