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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Violent deaths in 2021 reported

Of the 880 violent deaths recorded in 2021, 639 were homicides.

By The Star Staff

The Puerto Rico Violent Deaths Reporting System (PRVDRS) of the Puerto Rico Institute of Statistics (Institute), presented Monday the data from the Violent Deaths Report in Puerto Rico for the year 2021.

The report recorded more than 816 incidents of violent deaths, with a total of 880 fatalities. Of the total number of violent deaths, 97% were 639 due to homicide and 215 due to suicide, with the remaining 26 violent deaths 3% due to other causes.

In 2021, 72.6% of violent death victims were single or multiple homicide incidents and 24.4% were suicide incidents. Two homicide-suicide incidents were reported, resulting in four fatalities. In addition, during this period, two violent deaths were documented that were attributed to legal intervention (0.2%), three violent deaths due to unintentional self-inflicted firearms (0.3%), and 21 violent deaths with undetermined intent (2.4%). In 2021, approximately nine out of 10 victims of violent deaths (92.0%) were men. The raw rate of violent deaths for Puerto Rico in 2021 was 27.0 per 100,000 inhabitants, 52.5 in men and 4.0 in women.

Of the 880 violent deaths recorded in 2021, 639 were homicides (72.6%). Most of the homicides occurred between the ages of 15 and 39. These age groups account for 73.1% of all homicides in males and 59.5% in females. The main mechanism of the homicides was firearms. In Puerto Rico, according to the report, 91.5% of homicides were committed with firearms, which is more than double the global average of 47.0%.

In 2021, the majority of homicides occurred in an environment of collective violence. In 358 of the 639 homicides (56.0%) recorded in 2021, they occurred in a context related to criminal groups involved in the transfer of illicit drugs.

In 2021, 31 fatal victims of family violence were reported. Family violence (violence between family members) includes child or adult abuse and intimate partner violence. Most of these cases were related to violence in an environment of intimate partners or ex-partners (20 cases, 64.5%). Eleven fatal incidents between family members (35.5%) was recorded. The majority of victims of intimate partner violence were women (18 cases, 90.0%). More than half of these women were victims of their spouse or current partner (61.1%), while 38.9% were victims of their ex-spouse or ex-partner. In addition, 11 of the 18 femicides/femicides involved the use of a firearm (61.1%).

As for suicides in Puerto Rico, the report highlights that the frequency is lower than that of homicides. However, as in homicides, suicides are more frequent in men (86.5%). In 2021, the raw suicide rate was 6.6 per 100,000 population, 12.0 in men (1 in 124 men), and 1.7 in women (1 in 774 women). The main mechanism was asphyxia (64.5% in men and 55.2% in women).

Mariluz Bezares Salinas, Manager of Statistical Projects at the Institute and co-principal investigator of the Report on Violent Deaths in Puerto Rico, explained that the collection of this type of data could involve fieldwork that takes more than two years, from the time the incident occurs until the data collection and review is completed.

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

For the Institute’s Executive Director, 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, health, and economic approaches. Our commitment at the Institute is to continue strengthening this statistical and epidemiological system, to continue improving the quality of this type of data,” Dr. Disdier argued.

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

The Puerto Rico Institute of Statistics is an autonomous governmental entity with the task of coordinating the Government’s statistics production service to ensure that the data collection and statistics systems on which public policies are based are complete, reliable, and quickly and universally accessible.

For more information you can visit the website: prvdrs or write to You can also follow social media through Facebook (, X (@EstadisticasPR), LinkedIn (Puerto Rico Institute of Statistics) and Instagram (@institutodeestadisticas).

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