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The Epidemiology of Homicide in the City of Los Angeles, 1970-1979: A Collaborative Study

Carl C. Bell, MD
JAMA. 1986;256(8):1055. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03380080101042.
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The authors of this collaborative study appropriately assert that homicide is a public health problem, for, although homicide has been considered as in the purview of the criminal justice system, the resources of law enforcement, the judicial system, and penal institutions have not succeeded in reducing the homicide rate. The authors note that the FBI has concluded that "homicide is primarily a societal problem over which law enforcement has little or no control." They further justify public health involvement with interpersonal violence (the end point of which is homicide) by indicating its high toll in illness and death. In 1980, homicide ranked as the fifth leading cause of death in Los Angeles and ranked even higher when considering blacks and other minorities separately.

Since there are some differences in homicide rates between various racial and ethnic groups (eg, the lifetime chance of becoming a homicide victim is about 1 in


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