Firearm Ownership Closely Tied to Suicide Rates, Study Finds

May 27, 2016

News Type:  Weekly Spark, Weekly Spark News

Medical Xpress

States with higher rates of gun ownership had higher rates of gun-related suicides, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Public Health. Owning a gun explained 71 percent of the variance in male suicide rates between states and 49 percent of the difference in female rates. The study examined the association between gun ownership and gender-specific suicide rates in all 50 states for 33 years from 1981 to 2013. “Our study adds to the consistent finding that among both males and females, increased prevalence of firearms is clearly associated with an increase in the firearm-specific suicide rate,” said Michael Siegel, lead author and professor of community health sciences at the Boston University School of Public Health. “The magnitude of this relationship is substantial and warrants attention from policymakers.” The study also showed an association between gun ownership and suicides by any means among males, although not among females. The authors said the findings indicate that “reductions in the prevalence of firearms may be an effective strategy for reducing overall and firearm-related suicides among males and for reducing firearm-related suicides among females.”

Spark Extra! To learn more about the associations between gun laws and suicide, check out “Gun laws associated with lower suicide rates.”