The headlines are all too familiar: Suicide Has Been Deadlier Than Combat for the Military; The Parking Lot Suicides. Every day in America, 124 people die by suicide, of which more than 62 are firearm suicides. Among the 62 firearm suicide decedents, roughly one is a military service member and 11 are veterans. Still more military service members and veterans die by non-firearm suicide.
Military service member and veteran suicide is a public health crisis in America and firearms play a critical role, as firearms are the most common method chosen across these populations. Though there is no single explanation or cause for suicide, there are risk factors that do increase the risk for suicide, including access to firearms. Firearm ownership does not necessarily increase suicidal ideation, but access to and familiarity with firearms increases the capability for suicide, which is considered necessary for how suicidal thoughts progress into suicide attempts. Since firearms are the deadliest suicide method in America, these attempts are much more likely to be lethal than suicide attempts using other methods. While half of the suicides in the U.S. are by firearm, 60-70% percent of service member and veteran suicides are by firearm. Military family members also die by firearm suicide more often than expected. Firearms are fundamental to military culture, but they cannot be ignored in addressing suicide.