Fewer guns in U.S. could mean far fewer suicides

Limiting access to guns could cut the rising suicide rate in the U.S. by over a third, according to recent analysis in the Washington Post.

In 2014, nearly 43,000 Americans killed themselves, and half did so with guns, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Protection. The U.S. suicide rate has leapt 17% since 2000—in contrast to most other developed countries, where rates have declined.

Experts say that wide access to guns in America contributes to the high suicide rate because guns are more lethal than any other suicide method: 90% of people who shoot themselves die, often instantly. Other common suicide methods, such as suffocation or poisoning, can take longer—which means that there may be time for a person to call for help or for someone else to intervene.

“Anything that builds in delay is working in your favor because that fever-pitch time when you’re actually willing to swallow the poison or pull the trigger is often fairly narrow,” said Cathy Barber, director of the Means Matter Campaign at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Injury Control Research Center, in a July 13, 2016 Washington Post article.

Read the Washington Post article: To reduce suicides, look at guns

Learn more

Removing guns from distraught individuals may help curb suicide rate (Harvard Chan School news)

Guns & Suicide: The Hidden Toll (Harvard Public Health magazine)