Removing guns from distraught individuals may help curb suicide rate

Friends of distressed individuals can have a role in helping to reduce the nation’s rising suicide rate by showing compassion, optimism, and coaxing the distraught person to store any household guns or medications that they might use to kill themselves inaccessably until they’re feeling better, said Catherine Barber, director of the Means Matter Campaign at the Harvard Injury Control Research Center at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, in a April 21, 2016 Los Angeles Times article.*

Barber was commenting on a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which showed a 24% increase in suicides in the U.S. between 1999 and 2014, including increases among white women and Native Americans. About 42,773 Americans died of suicide in 2014, making it the 10th leading cause of death for all ages. Many who attempt suicide act with little or no planning—and if they have access to a gun, they are much more likely to die in the attempt. Firearms claimed about half of the male suicide victims and about one-third of female suicides in 2014.

Nine out of 10 people who attempt suicide and survive—even very serious attempts—do not go on to later take their lives. “Often, the moment for a friend to intervene is related to a crisis that is going to resolve, like a divorce,” said Barber.

Read the Los Angeles Times article: U.S. suicides have soared since 1999, CDC report says

Read the CDC report: Increase in Suicide in the United States, 1999–2014

*This article was updated on April 27, 2016