• Glenn Wilson
    In 2018, there were 29 murders recorded in San Miguel de Allende. [1] The population of San Miguel is about 170,000. [2] So, the 2018 homicide rate for San Miguel is about 17 per 100,000. Whether you think of this as 17 deaths per 100,000 or in the absolute terms of 29 deaths, the loss of human life is tragic.

    Some people in San Miguel are concerned about this homicide rate and the recent murders and make comparisons to murder rates to where they are from or to other places they know. The average overall murder rate in the U.S. is about 5 per 100,000 and in Canada it's under 2 and in Mexico as a whole it is about 19 per 100,000. [3] Of course, these rates vary by city.

    I've heard comments like, "San Miguel is about the same as Kansas City, but at least we're better than St. Louis." [4]


    And, "At least we didn't make the list of most violent cities."
    A few excerpts from that list [5]:
    50. New Orleans, Louisiana, had 36.87 homicides per 100,000 residents.
    46. Detroit had 38.78 homicides per 100,000 residents.
    32. Celaya, Mexico, had 46.99 homicides per 100,000 residents.
    23. Baltimore, Maryland, had 50.52 homicides per 100,000 residents.
    15. St. Louis, Missouri, had 60.59 homicides per 100,000 residents.

    I believe that these comparisons are valid, and useful, and help us to understand and relate to the numbers and to put them into perspective.

    A different perspective

    But, for the purpose of perspective, I would like you to consider another comparison. [6]


    A "random" person in the U.S. is almost 10 times more likely to die from heart disease than a "random" person in SMA is to be murdered. The same is true for cancer. And a lot of heart disease can be prevented through diet and other healthy practices [7], as can a lot of chronic disease risk––diabetes, heart attacks, stroke, and cancer. [8][9]

    I appreciate all feedback and comments and links to better statistics.

    Notes and sources:
    [1] Murders in San Miguel Becoming More Frequent, More Public
    [2] San Miguel de Allende 2015 Census Estimate
    [3] List of countries by intentional homicide rate
    [4] 1998 was the least deadly year in Cincinnati. What can we learn from it?
    [5] These were the 50 most violent cities in the world in 2018
    [6] Mortality in the United States, 2017
    [7] How Not to Die from Heart Disease
    [8] From Adequate Nutrition to Optimum Nutrition
    [9] The Actual Benefit of Diet vs. Drugs

    Register or sign up for our daily email digest.
  • Glenn Wilson
    Two points I should have made clearer.

    1. 29 deaths from murder in 2018 is 29 too many.

    2.Using the CDC statistics for the US population (so not entirely accurate, but reasonable for the sake of discussion) about 1000 people probably died in San Miguel in 2018. 29 of those deaths were from murder. What about the 971 other deaths?
  • Glenn Wilson
    Based on a recent More Security in San Miguel de Allende Facebook post there have been 35 murders in SMA through April this year. At that rate, there would be 105 murders in 2019 or about 62 per 100,000 (105/170,000).

    That would put San Miguel at about number 15 on the Mexico's Citizens' Council for Public Security's annual ranking of the world's most violent cities, about tied with St. Louis, Missouri.

    Or, on the chart above that would be below Heart disease and Cancer but above Unintentional injuries ("accidents").
  • Glenn Wilson
    Between June 2017 and June 2018, 238 Americans died in Mexico, amounting to 29 percent of all U.S. citizens who perished overseas during the period, according to the U.S. Department of State. But in terms of homicide, Mexico looms much larger in the figures: Of the 152 who were murdered overseas during the 12 months in question, exactly half died in Mexico. Naturally, however, the question of scale is paramount in interpreting the figures. The 35 million U.S. tourists who visit Mexico dwarf the number of their compatriots (1.5 million) who go to nearby destinations such as Jamaica. And while just six Americans fell victim to homicide in the latter, the murder rate for U.S. citizens is, per capita, higher on the Caribbean island than it is in Mexico.

    To put things further into perspective, Chicago has a population of 2.7 million — about the same as the number of Americans that live in Mexico (to say nothing of the 35 million that visited last year). Last year, however, 561 people died in homicides in the Windy City, more than seven times the number of Americans who were murdered in Mexico.

    The Statfor article has useful context and advice on avoiding or minimizing risk and is worth a read.

    The graphic mentions "American Tourists" but the text in the article makes it clear that they are referring to all foreign deaths of U.S. citizens, whether tourists or residents. You can verify these numbers yourself at:

    US Department of State: U.S. Citizen Deaths Overseas.

    I can see the 76 homicides for June 2017 to June 2018 at that site, but in doing so I realized that it is a 13 month period. For July 2017 to June 2018 (12 months) there are 64 homicides. And the most recent 12 month period available, January 2018 to December 2018, shows 67 homicides out of 193 total deaths.

    If we use 67 homicides and 2.7 million U.S. citizens living in Mexico that results in a figure of about 2.5 per 100,000, well under the average U.S. murder rate.

    There is a wide range reported for how many U.S. citizens are living in Mexico and that makes a difference in this calculation. I would appreciate any pointers to a solid source.
  • Glenn Wilson
    Update: To clarify, the phrase above
    "all foreign deaths of U.S. citizens"
    should read
    "all foreign non-natural deaths of U.S. citizens"

    and that is what the US Department of State site shows, "each United States citizen who dies in a foreign country from a non-natural cause."
  • Glenn Wilson
    An estimated 161,250 preventable deaths occur each year in U.S. hospitals, a decline from three years ago, according to a new analysis from the Leapfrog Group.
    161,000 avoidable deaths occur in hospitals annually, Leapfrog Group finds

    Which is roughly about 50 per 100,000. What is or is not a "preventable" death in a hospital may be hard to define and classify but it seems way too many and at 50 per 100,000 would be one of the leading causes of death in the US.

    So we could go in for a simple operation and come out with a life-threatening infection, or not come out at all. And 12,000 die from surgeries that were unnecessary in the first place. For those keeping score, that’s 225,000 people dead from iatrogenic causes, meaning death by doctor, death by medical care. And that’s mostly just for patients in a hospital. In an outpatient setting, adverse effects can send millions to the hospital and result in perhaps 199,000 additional deaths. And this is not including all those just non-fatally injured, like oops, we just accidentally amputated the tip of your penis. And these estimates are on the low end. The Institute of Medicine estimated that deaths from medical errors may kill up to 98,000 Americans. That would bump us up to 284,000 dead, but even if we use the lower estimate, the medical profession constitutes the third leading cause of death in the United States. It goes heart disease, cancer, then me.

    One respondent pointed out that it was misleading to call medicine the third leading cause of death since many of those we kill also had heart disease or cancer. Doctors aren’t out there gunning down healthy people. Only people on medications are killed by medication errors or side effects. You have to be in a hospital to be killed by a hospital error. Exactly! That’s why lifestyle medicine is so important, because the most common reasons people are on drugs or in hospitals is for diseases that can be prevented with a healthy diet and lifestyle. The best way to avoid the adverse effects of medical care is to not get sick in the first place.

    Why Prevention is Worth a Ton of Cure
  • Glenn Wilson
    As for the US State Department data, mentioned above, for foreign non-natural deaths of U.S. citizens, looking at San Miguel de Allende I see zero homicides for 2018, zero homicides for 2017, zero homicides for 2016, and one homicide in 2015 and a total of five for the time frame covered by the database (late 2002 through 2018).

    Based on this, US citizens are probably less likely to be murdered in SMA than in many places in the US.

    When it comes to murder, SMA has been a more dangerous place for Mexicans than for US citizens. But, past performance is no guarantee of future results. So, don't get too complacent if you are a US citizen here.

    These observations are not meant to minimize the deaths or the pain to the families and friends of the victims.
Add a Comment

Welcome to San Miguel Frequently Asked Questions!

Expat and immigrant English language resources and community for San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico. Visitors to this site may browse.

Register to receive the optional daily email digest.

Registration is also required to post or vote in polls. When you register, we will send you an email with a link. Open that email and click that link to complete the process and confirm your email.