Most Gun Deaths in U.S. are Suicides

Monday, February 18, 2013

While much of the current debate over gun control has dealt with mass shootings, the reality is that most gun fatalities in the U.S. are suicides.


In 2010, two-thirds of all gun-related deaths were the result of someone shooting themselves (20,000 out of 30,000), according to the most recent figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).


State level statistics indicate that with higher rates of gun ownership comes higher rates of suicide. The three states with the highest suicide rates are also the top gun-owning states (Wyoming, Montana and Alaska), wrote Sabrina Tavernise in The New York Times.


Guns are also an unusually effective way to commit suicide. Suicidal acts with guns are fatal in 85% of cases, according to the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, compared to just 2% of suicides involving pills.


“The literature suggests that having a gun in your home to protect your family is like bringing a time bomb into your house,” Dr. Mark Rosenberg, an epidemiologist who helped establish the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, told the Times. “Instead of protecting you, it’s more likely to blow up.”


According to CDC researchers, two-thirds of young people who attempt suicide do so within one hour of making the decision. Thus one of the tactics to prevent suicides is to keep guns out of the hands of suicidal youth until the urge kill themselves passes. In some states, there has been a push to distribute gunlocks, partly to prevent impulse suicides.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

To Reduce Suicide Rates, New Focus Turns to Guns (by Sabrina Tavernise, New York Times)


Mike 11 years ago
Why is the CDC reporting suicides by guns? Is there something not being reported like gun suicides by people on SSI inhibitors that kill themselves because that's the side effect of psychotropic drugs they are prescribed for depression?

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