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Suicide is a public health crisis in the United States, and firearms play a large role. An average of 20,000 people die by firearm suicide each year – over 50 every single day. These firearm suicide deaths constitute 3 of every 5 US firearm deaths, and half of all US suicide deaths.¹ Firearms are among the most lethal suicide attempt methods, with approximately 9 out of 10 firearm suicide attempts resulting in death. By comparison, the most frequently chosen methods of suicide attempt are significantly less fatal: poisoning/overdose and cut/pierce result in death in just 0.5-2% and 1-3% of attempts, respectively.²
Downloadable Fact Sheet: Firearm Suicide Prevention Fact Sheet
Firearm Suicide Across the United States
Firearm suicide rates vary greatly across the country. In places where household firearm ownership is more common, suicide rates—both overall and by firearms—are generally higher. On average, the District of Columbia has the lowest firearm suicide rate and Wyoming has the highest firearm suicide rate.³
Firearm Suicide Rates Across the United States, 2012-2016
Death rates per 100,000 population
Downloadable Fact Sheet: Firearm Suicide in the United States
Limiting Access to Lethal Means
There is substantive research linking easy access to firearms with an increased risk of firearm suicide. Suicide prevention interventions that address access to lethal means are critical components of a comprehensive suicide prevention strategy.
In June 2018, the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence published a paper in Injury Prevention that outlined a novel application of the social ecological model for firearm suicide prevention. It focused on four levels of intervention (societal, community, relationship, and individual) to reduce access to firearms, a practical contributor to the capacity to attempt suicide, from individuals when they are at an elevated risk for suicide. Taken together with upstream interventions, such as increased access to mental health services and substance use treatment, a multi-level approach for suicide prevention that addresses access to firearms can save lives.
Downloadable Fact Sheets and Reports:
1. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, CDC. 1999-2016 US Suicide Deaths and Rates per 100,000. Fatal Injury Reports, 1999-2016. Retrieved March 5, 2018, from http://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/fatal.html.
2. Azrael D. & Miller M. (2016). Reducing suicide without affecting underlying mental health: Theoretical underpinnings and a review of the evidence base linking the availability of lethal means and suicide. In R. C. O’Connor & J. Pirkis (Eds.), The International Handbook of Suicide Prevention, Second Edition (pp. 637-662). West Sussex, England: John Wiley & Sons.
3. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, CDC. Firearm Deaths and Rates per 100,000. Fatal Injury Reports, 1999-2016. Available: http://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/fatal.html