Definition
Homicide is the killing of a person by another with intent to cause death or serious injury, by any means. It excludes death due to legal intervention and operations of war.
Homicide rate by year
Per 100 000 population
Homicide rate by sex
Per 100 000 population, 2015
Homicide rate by age
Per 100 000 population, 2015
Homicide rate
In 2015 an estimated 470 000 people worldwide were victims of homicide (global rate of 6.4 per 100 000). Rates in high-income countries/areas are generally lower than rates in low- and middle-income countries/areas. Some 80% of homicides occur in males and the highest rates are in males aged 15–29 years. Estimates are not calculated for countries with populations under 90 000 in 2015 or WHO non-Member States. The countries/areas in each WHO region can be found here.
African Region
Eastern Mediterranean Region
European Region
Region of the Americas
South-East Asia Region
Western Pacific Region
10.3
6.5
3.3
18.6
4.0
1.7
Size: Homicide rate
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Studies of homicide consequences

Beyond its direct impact, homicide has serious negative effects on the lives of surviving family members, particularly children. Psychological effects include anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, aggression, guilt and a heightened sense of vulnerability. Socio-occupational effects include problems in school and at work. Homicide may also lead families to incur expenses they can ill afford, such as funeral costs and lawyer fees. If the victim was a breadwinner, families may no longer be able to cope financially. Homicide can generate a sense of insecurity in society, and when high rates occur in countries with weak, inefficient and corrupt criminal justice systems, can contribute to undermining social and economic development.

Studies of homicide risk factors

Homicide is caused by mix of factors at the individual, relationship, community and societal levels. Demographic structure is a well-established risk factor for homicide. Societies where young people – particularly young males – make up a greater share of the population tend to have higher homicide rates. Transitions in political regimes may also be associated with increased homicide. The fall of Communism in Eastern Europe, apartheid in South Africa, and dictatorship in Brazil all saw rapid increases in homicide rates. Homicide rates may increase in the absence of good governance and effective rule of law. Homicide rates tend to be lower where states have legitimacy in the eyes of citizens, can deliver key political goods such as justice based on the rule of law, and have low levels of corruption. Poverty, economic inequality, ethnic fractionalization, and the availability of guns and alcohol are also risk factors for homicide.

Examples of strategies and interventions
This section contains examples of strategies and specific interventions with some evidence for effectiveness. They have been chosen for illustrative purposes, and their inclusion in Violence Info does not mean that WHO endorses them.
Firearm Control Act (FCA) South Africa.
Enactment of the Firearm Control Act in South Africa.
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Medellín: changes in built environment
Local government invested in the public transit system and upgrading of urban infrastructure to improve residents’ access to jobs and attract new businesses to impoverished neighbourhoods. Reduced levels of homicide …
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Cure Violence
Cure Violence aims to stop the spread of violence in communities by detecting and interrupting conflicts, identifying and treating the highest risk individuals, and changing social norms.
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