Means Matter Basics
Firearms are the most lethal and most common method of suicide in the U.S. More people who die by suicide use a gun than all other methods combined. Suicide attempts with a firearm are almost always fatal, while those with other methods are less likely to kill. Nine out of ten people who survive a suicide attempt do not go on to die by suicide later.
Every U.S. study that has examined the relationship has found that access to firearms is a risk factor for suicides. Firearm owners are not more suicidal than non-firearm owners; rather, their suicide attempts are more likely to be fatal. Many suicide attempts are made with little planning during a short-term crisis period. If highly lethal means are made less available to impulsive attempters and they substitute less lethal means, or temporarily postpone their attempt, the odds are increased that they will survive. Studies in a variety of countries have indicated that when access to a highly lethal and leading suicide method is reduced, the overall suicide rate drops driven by a drop in the restricted method.
To explore the research on each of these concepts in greater depth, click here:
- Many suicide attempts occur with little planning during a short-term crisis.
- Intent isn’t all that determines whether an attempter lives or dies; means also matter.
- 90% of attempters who survive do NOT go on to die by suicide later.
- Access to firearms is a risk factor for suicide.
- Firearms used in youth suicide usually belong to a parent
- Reducing access to lethal means saves lives.