High rates of gun ownership linked with more youth suicides

A nationwide study found that youth suicide is more prevalent in states with higher rates of household gun ownership.

After accounting for factors that could contribute to suicide risk, such as depression, alcoholism, and substance abuse, the researchers found that for each 10 percentage-point increase in a state’s rate of household gun ownership, the youth suicide rate jumped by almost 27%. The study looked at gun ownership across all 50 states in 2004 and youth suicide rates from 2005 to 2015.

In a February 8, 2019 Reuters article, Cathy Barber, director of the Means Matter Campaign at the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, who was not involved with study, noted that gun owners typically keep their guns secure when their children are young but may not be so vigilant about it when their kids are teens—even though that’s when the risk for both suicide and accidental shootings increases.

To help reduce youth suicide, it would help “for opinion leaders in the gun-owning community … to promote that a basic tenet of firearm safety is ensuring your guns aren’t accessible to a person who is at risk for suicide,” Barber told Reuters.

Read the Reuters article: More youth suicides seen in states with higher gun ownership rates

Learn more

Report: Rising Utah suicide rate propelled by guns (Harvard Chan School news)

Suicide prevention fight moving into gun country (Harvard Chan School news)