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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

551 homicides and 210 suicides were reported in Puerto Rico in 2020

By The Star Staff

As presented in the latest Report of Violent Deaths in Puerto Rico in San Juan, the Puerto Rico Violent Death Reporting System (PRVDRS), established at the Puerto Rico Institute of Statistics, presented the data from the Report of Violent Deaths in Puerto Rico for the year 2020. The report reveals that in 2020, there were 729 incidents of violent deaths, resulting in a total of 790 fatalities. Out of the total violent deaths, 551 were homicides, and 210 were suicides. According to PRVDRS, violent deaths mainly occur as a result of homicide or suicide.

In 2020, 69.8% of the victims of violent deaths were reported in single or multiple homicide incidents, and 26.6% were suicide incidents. There were four homicide-suicide incidents, resulting in eight fatalities. Additionally, during this period, four violent deaths were attributed to legal intervention (0.5%), and 19 violent deaths were of undetermined intent (2.4%).

In 2020, approximately nine out of ten victims of violent deaths (89.0%) were male. The crude homicide rate was 24.1 per 100,000 inhabitants, with rates of 45.2 for males and 4.9 for females. The primary mechanism for homicides was firearms, with approximately nine out of ten homicides (88.9%) involving firearms. 89.6% of these deaths occurred in males and 83.7% in females.

The proportion of female homicides involving firearms in 2020 is the highest since the year 2000. Homicide rates by sex in the age groups between 15 to 39 years reflect that 72.7% of all male homicides and 61.2% of all female homicides occur in these age groups. The most frequent criminal circumstances of homicides in Puerto Rico are related to drug trafficking and organized crime.

In 2020, 68 fatalities were reported due to family violence. The majority of these cases were related to violence in an intimate or former partner relationship (17 cases, 25.0%), and 31 additional victims were related to intimate partners or third parties present during intimate partner conflicts (45.6%). Family member violence (20 cases, 29.4%) mainly occurred during a discussion (50.0%). The majority of victims of intimate partner violence were women (76.5%) fatally assaulted by their former male partners (61.5%) or current partners/spouses (38.5%). Additionally, three female victims of intimate partner violence were part of homicide-suicide incidents (23.1%).

Regarding suicides in Puerto Rico, the report highlights that their frequency is lower than homicides. However, similar to homicides, suicides are more common in males (84.8%). In 2020, the crude suicide rate was 6.4 per 100,000 inhabitants, 11.4 in males (one in 124 males), and 1.9 in females (one in 765 females). The suicide risk in males was six times higher than the suicide risk in females. The majority of suicides occurred through hanging, strangulation, or suffocation (64.3%), followed by firearms (16.7%).

Mariluz Bezares, statistical projects manager at the Puerto Rico Institute of Statistics and co-principal investigator of PRVDRS, explained that collecting this type of data could involve fieldwork taking more than two years from the moment the incident occurs until data collection and review are completed.

“This system is a reliable, comprehensive, and unique reference source that helps describe the context of violent deaths in the victim-offender relationship and the magnitude, trends, and characteristics of violent deaths in Puerto Rico,” said Dr. Diego Zavala, epidemiologist and co-principal investigator of PRVDRS.

For the executive director of the Puerto Rico Institute of Statistics, Dr. Orville M. Disdier, these statistics are one of the main tools to combat the phenomenon of violence in Puerto Rico. “These data, among others, serve as a basis for establishing effective violence prevention measures in Puerto Rico, from multiple social, demographic, and economic perspectives. Our commitment at the Puerto Rico Institute of Statistics is to continue strengthening this statistical and epidemiological system to further improve the quality of this type of data,” commented Dr. Disdier.

PRVDRS is an epidemiological surveillance system affiliated with the Puerto Rico Institute of Statistics and designed to obtain a comprehensive and standardized census of violent deaths in Puerto Rico. PRVDRS began its participation in the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) in September 2016 through a collaborative agreement granted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The Puerto Rico Institute of Statistics is an autonomous government entity tasked with coordinating the government’s statistical production service to ensure that data and statistics-based public policies are complete, reliable, and quickly and universally accessible.

The Report of Violent Deaths in Puerto Rico for 2020, like previous reports, is available at:

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