Introduction This study seeks to analyse the trend of homicide rate in México in last 30 years by age, gender and mechanism of death and identify the socioeconomic variables that better explain the spatial variations of homicide rate in Mexico in 2000 and 2008.
Methods Homicide rates adjusted by age were calculated; through the use of multiple regression analysis (stepwise method), variables that better explained the interstate variations in the homicide rates were identified.
Results The results show that although homicide rates in Mexico have been relatively high, the rate markedly decreased between early nineties and 2005, but has increased around 35% in last 3 years; furthermore, years of potential life lost by homicide has increased in recent years because the victims are younger; currently, male homicide rate is nine times higher than female rate; throughout the period more than half of homicides were committed by firearms, and in recent years figures exceed 60%. Moreover, social exclusion, drug trafficking, impunity and firearms possession are key elements to understand the spatial variations of the homicide mortality in Mexico in analysed years.
Conclusions In recent years it is observed a rise of the homicide rate and consequently, an increment of the social insecurity at a national level; to reduce the number of homicide victims and spatial variations in the rate, the Mexican government needs to combat the cartels of drug trafficking, but also to implement structural reforms to improve the life conditions of Mexican population and diminish the socioeconomic disparities among states.